CROWN POINT | It was a day to honor local military heroes, living and departed, for their contribution to our country’s independence.
Crown Point’s 2013 Fourth of July Parade, “Hats Off to Our Heroes,” honored Northwest Indiana veterans and active military service personnel on six floats. The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy were each commemorated with separate floats. The honorary parade grand marshals, Army veteran Jamie Worst, Coast Guard veteran Cindy Harmon, Navy veteran Tim DeBord, and Marine Bob Sobocinski, rode atop a sixth float.
A unit sponsored by Geisen Funeral Home & Cremation Services featured members of Crown Point Boy Scout Troop 48 and several local Girl Scouts carrying the names of 46 deceased veterans for whom Geisen’s had arranged funeral services during the past year.
“It was a wonderful memorial and the crowd response was incredible,” Geisen employee Jean Lahm said. “As we walked by, people clapped, cheered, stood up; some took photos of the Scout carrying the name of the loved one they lost, and some simply saluted.”
U.S. Marine Veteran Tom Hackney, of Hammond, viewed the parade on Main Street with his wife, children and mother-in-law.
“I thought it was very good,” Hackney said. “They seemed to be focusing more on the fallen ones than they have before, especially with the placards with the names on them. I thought all the branches of the services represented themselves very well. There seemed to be a lot more of a veteran presence than there used to be.”
Hackney said the Marines float was excellent.
“I always love a good Marines float,” he said.
A riderless horse walked the parade in memory of the fallen service members.
Crown Point resident and Vietnam veteran Tom Jostes, who served in the U.S. Army’s Fifth Division Special Forces, said he was impressed with this year’s parade and the work done by the committee to honor both living and deceased veterans.
“The whole committee has done a great job, and the fact that it is dedicated to the veterans and armed forces is a fantastic thing,” Jostes said. “Every year is good. This year tops it.”
Jostes, who watched the parade on Main Street with his wife, Louise, and friends, said the riderless horse representing the fallen soldier brought a lump to his throat.
“I appreciate that we don’t forget them,” he said.
For the first time, the Indiana Patriot Guard motorcycle riders participated. The Patriot Guard attends the funerals of fallen American heroes as a sign of respect when invited by their families.
New this year, the July 4th Committee members, who volunteer their time to coordinate and raise funds for the parade and fireworks, handed out 2,000 rally towels, which they hope will become collectors’ items. The towel features the committee’s logo with the historic Lake County Courthouse, fireworks and the words “2013 Hats Off to Our Heroes.
The Field of Honor float, with its white crosses, promoted the group’s efforts to compile a database of fallen soldiers with its slogan, “Behind every cross there is a soldier buried who has his own story.”
For the second year, 13 disc jockeys revved up the thousands of parade goers along Main Street.