After the parades are over and the last bugle is blown, many round out their Memorial Day celebration by firing up the grill with their families. But for dozens of veterans, Memorial Day tradition means gathering at the local VFW to share in fellowship with other veterans and to rest after miles of parading.
"We have fun. I did all the parades today and this is a good place to come back and relax," said Doryl Weinstock, incoming post commander at VFW 5108 in Marietta.
The post welcomed dozens of veterans and their families Monday afternoon, offering a good hearty meal consisting of ham and cheese sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, a variety of soups, corn bread and more, said Weinstock.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
After a busy day of parades and ceremonies, veterans (from left) Al Walbert, Doryl Weinstock, and George Wolfert, kick back at VFW Post 5108, sharing stories and remembering their fallen friends.
But the annual event is about more than socializing and eating, said Marietta resident Al Walbert.
"It's a good place to get together and remember people and the things they've done," said Walbert, 67, a veteran of the Vietnam War.
The post takes on a very reverent attitude on Memorial Day, and for that reason it is probably the most quiet day of the year at the post, he added.
Wars and American
Revolutionary War (1775-1783): 4,435
War of 1812 (1812 - 1815): 2,260
Indian Wars (1817 - 1898 all conflicts): 1,000
Mexican War (1846 - 1848): 13,283
Civil War North (1861 - 1865): 563,621
Spanish - American War (1898 - 1899): 2,446
World War I (1917 - 1918): 116,516
World War II (1941 - 1946): 405,399
Korean War (1950 - 1953): 36,574
Vietnam (1965 - 1975): 58,209
Persian Gulf War (1990 - 1991): 382
Operation Endure Freedom, Afghanistan (2001): 1,745
Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003 - 2010): 4,420
"This is the day we remember our fallen veterans. It's not about us today. It's about them," said Walbert, whose father and grandfather were both World War II veterans.
George Wolfert, a veteran of the Korean War, both started and ended his Memorial Day at the VFW.
"All my equipment is here so I start here in the morning, and after four firings it's good to come back and relax," said Wolfert, 82, who is the leader of the honor guard.
The honor guard had a busy day, marching in two parades and firing off 21-gun salutes during four separate ceremonies.
After those activities, Wolfert likes to take some time to think about his friends that did not make it back from the war.
"And those ones that did are going fast," he added.
The honor guard has already participated in 30 veterans' funeral services this year, he noted.
Marietta resident Calvin Thomas, 89, was one of ten children-six of whom were boys.
"All of us boys were in the service. Our parents had their hands full," said Thomas, who spent 21 years in the Army, serving in both WWII and the Korean War.
Thomas no longer participates in the parades.
"I've been in more parades than these guys have ever seen," he joked.
But Memorial Day at the VFW will always be part of the tradition, he said.
"This is where I come to celebrate with my friends," he said.