Chicago area veterans reminisce on Memorial Day

FOX 32 NEWS - In the suburbs, thousands turned out for Memorial Day parades in a number of communities.

Marching bands, two Statues of Liberty and, of course, plenty of American flags all added up to a perfect Memorial Day parade in northwest suburban Park Ridge on Monday.

Under bright blue skies, several thousand people lined the parade route and a couple thousand more took part in the parade itself.

"Very nice to have all these people show up on this special day for our country. We're supporting our veterans and this great nation that we live in. So I'm glad to see the big turnout here,” said parade watcher Ramiro Gonzalez.

The stars of this day's parade are those that served and know firsthand the sacrifices made by those being honored today.

World War II veteran Robert J. Daniels remembers landing on Utah Beach three days after D-Day.

"And we were in a storm. And the storm was shooting waves probably 50 feet high,” said Daniels.

Navy veteran Kurt Arntzen survived Okinawa, but today he remembered a close buddy who was on board the ill-fated USS Indianapolis, which sunk in shark-infested waters after delivering the first atomic bomb.

"He said he would outlive me because the Indianapolis was a pretty heavy ship. It got sunk near the end of the war. And he went down with that. So that's what I think about often,” said WWII Veteran Kurt Arntzen.

In Arlington Heights, there was a new twist on an old Memorial Day tradition: veterans on horseback lead a rider-less horse with a saddle bearing the names of local residents who died serving our country.

"We identified the 58 members from Arlington Heights that were killed in action since the Civil War, leading into the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII and to present day. And that is embroidered on the saddle pad, and we'll be presenting it to the mayor of Arlington Heights today,” said Jim Welch.

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