Procession for the Fallen

Ryan deBiase

Kent Memorial Day parade salutes soldiers

Civil War re-enactors fire off a canon after a prayer honoring the nation’s fallen veterans at the Memorial Day parade in Kent. The canon was loaned from Texas. DAVID RANUCCI | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

 Traffic was halted on Main Street in Kent Monday, as spectators attentively lined the streets. Gunshots rang out and a cannon fired from the bridge. Then came a playing of “Taps.”

Hundreds of community members witnessed the events as the city of Kent commemorated Memorial Day with its annual parade.

The procession began on the corner of Depeyster and Main streets and made its way across the Main Street Bridge before turning the corner to 43 North.

The Kent American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organized the parade. The group of armed service veterans, Honor Guard members and civil war re-enactors stood in formation on the bridge for a brief ceremony to start the procession.

The servicemen dropped a handful of poppies over the bridge and into the Cuyahoga River.

“The poppy seeds represent men lost at sea,” said American Legion Honor Guard member and parade organizer Pat Swaney.

Spectators were then warned to cover their ears as the gun salute and cannon firing set the parade in motion. The Civil War-era cannon was provided by a group of re-enactors from Texas, Swaney said.


The procession included local marching bands, the Jaycees, politicians, various businesses and civic organizations. Many were slinging assorted candy at the youthful bystanders.

Keeping the children interested and involved is one of the most important parts of commemorating Memorial Day, Swaney said.

“Getting the children involved is important so they know the sacrifice that the previous veterans have made,” he said.

The American Legion and VFW rely heavily on civic youth organizations to keep the parade running each year.

“We have great participation from the boy scouts, girls scouts, Kent soccer group – they’re all kids,” he said. “We probably had around 400 kids participating in the parade today.”

The procession ended at Standing Rock Cemetery on North Mantua Street. Although the parade was over, the ceremony continued for the fallen. In front of the Franklin Township Civil War Memorial, a Kent police chaplain sang the national anthem.

The air was thick with humidity and the crowd stood solemnly and respectfully.

The Memorial Day parade is usually the largest one in Kent each year, Swaney said.

Contact features reporter Ryan deBiase at [email protected].