Veterans and families honored at annual Memorial Day Parade


Nicole Hasek

A ceremony at Ames Municipal Cemetery followed the Memorial Day parade.

The lost lives of American soldiers and military personnel were honored at the annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday morning.

The parade started near Ames City Hall and ended with a ceremony at the Ames Municipal Cemetery.

“The United States remains more polarized today than any time since the American Civil War, but today of all days, we are reminded we are all on the same team. We’re all Americans,” said Ames Patriotic Council President Tim Gartin.

Gartin’s introduction was followed by the crowd standing to recite the National Anthem. The Ames Municipal Band also played “God Bless America” with vocalist Jim DeHoet, conducted by Michael Golemo.

Post Commander of American Legion Post 37 Jay Sisco gave a welcome speech on behalf of the post.

“We can ensure that future generations understand the importance of service [and] sacrifice, and we can ensure through our own community service that our country remains strong, free and prosperous,” Sisco said.

Sisco said many people proudly wear a Poppy flower on Memorial Day as “reminders of living legacy.”

“Military service comes with inherent danger,” Sisco said. “When politicians debate the cost of veterans’ benefits, we should remember the price already paid — not just by the fallen heroes, but by veterans and their families. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the true cost of war.”

Ames Mayor John Haila expressed his gratitude for military members and families who have lost a loved one during service.

“We are forever indebted to each and every one of them,” Haila said. “That selfless service, the many of you who are veterans here today, thank you for your service on behalf of our country.”

Lt. Col. Dan Runyon was the keynote speaker of the event. Runyon first enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard in 1989. After 33 years of military service, Runyon retired in 2022. He has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Global War Terrorism Service Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

“Very few people joined the military thinking they were going to give the ultimate sacrifice, but all that join — whether they intend to or not — offer themselves as a living sacrifice as the mission dictates,” Runyon said. “Through this unifying act of service, the term ‘brothers and sisters in arms’ has a deep and profound meaning.”

Runyon said each flag throughout the cemetery represents someone who lost their life for the country. He said since Sept. 11, over 3,000 members of the military have died.

“God bless America, and God bless those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Sisco said.

The ceremony ended with the names of fallen soldiers. The event can be viewed online at the Ames Patriotic Council’s Facebook page.