COVINGTON, Ky. — Vehicles with the pictures and names of fallen soldiers lined up outside of Holmes High School before parading through Covington Monday.
Honoring the legacies of U.S. veterans so that people remember them is nothing new for Angels from the Battlefield, but the group gave its best effort yet on this Memorial Day.
Darlene Williams especially wants people to know the name and face of one veteran in particular, her husband Specialist Ronnie “John Boy” Williams. John Boy Williams did two tours in Iraq, but never returned home from the second one.
“July 17, 2005. This year will make 17 years that he’s passed away,” Williams said.
After officially becoming a nonprofit last August, sponsorship allowed Williams and other members of Angels from the Battlefield to put their vision on full display for the first time this Memorial Day. In the past, they’ve had to pay out of pocket for the banners.
Banners for 55 soldiers made the trip around Covington for all to see for the city’s Memorial Day parade. Angels from the Battlefield worked together with the Misfits Jeep Club to put on the display.
Williams explained why that was so important, and what the day means to her.
“It’s very hard, but at the same time, it’s very touching. We always break down and cry, but nobody sees it. That’s why we wear our sunglasses,” she said. “When [my husband] passed away, we talked the night before. And he said, ‘if something ever happens to me, don’t let my son forget who I am.’ His son was two years old at the time. He’s 19 now.”
Most of the 55 soldiers are from Northern Kentucky.
Gary Keegan, who spent 20 months in Vietnam after he joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966, was the grand marshall of the parade. He said it honored him to lead the line of vehicles showcasing the region’s heroes.
“It’s really humbling to be part of it. Because people like me, we’re the lucky ones. We came home. It’s about the people who didn’t,” Keegan said. “Someone asked me, ‘Do you still think of Vietnam?’ And, [I do] every day. They didn’t believe me, but you have to. It’s part of your life every day.”
For people who haven’t faced the reality of losing a friend, or a husband, it’s easy to lose sight of what Memorial Day means to so many people. But if the turnout in Covington was any proof, there’s still a great deal of admiration out there for those who gave it all for their country.
Covington dedicated nine hours to honoring the military dead as part of the city’s annual Memorial Day services.
Monday’s events began at 7 a.m. with a series of Honor Guard salutes at local military memorial sites. They continued with the parade and ended with a service at Historic Linden Grove Cemetery and Arboretum.