CHICAGO - Chicago's new mayor Brandon Johnson spoke in Grant Park Monday for a Memorial Day ceremony.
The ceremony, as always, was held near the statue of a man who played an important role in establishing the holiday.
Veterans saluted the star-spangled banner as several hundred gathered in Grant Park to remember those who died defending our country. It’s a truly staggering number.
"600,000 since World War I," noted the host of the ceremony, WLS Radio’s Steve Cochran. "It's about the population of Boston or Detroit or Nashville. We don't know what they would have done with their lives. We don't know how they would have changed America."
Among the speakers for the first time was Johnson, who talked about sacrifice as a template for building Chicago.
"Knowing the dangers and the risks, these heroes forged ahead anyway to serve a righteous calling," Johnson said. "So of course it is our duty as grateful residents to preserve the values for which they fought. And to build a better, stronger Chicago and nation that is worthy of their sacrifice."
Chicago’s Memorial Day ceremony is held every year in the 900 block of South Michigan in Grant Park in front of the statue of John A. Logan, a Civil War general from downstate Illinois, who also served as a congressman and senator, and is credited as the father of Memorial Day.
After the Civil War, Logan led the call for the creation of Memorial Day, originally called "Decoration Day," as a national public holiday.
On this Memorial Day, a wreath was carried up the steps to Logan's statue as elected officials and military vets promised to never forget.
"They defended our principles and our freedom," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. "They laid down their lives so that we would live ours freely. They paid the ultimate price so that we would reap the rewards."