CUYAHOGA FALLS: Jayann Brooks and Toni Amos were born and raised in the Falls. So were their brothers. 


Amos was 15 years old when her brother James D. Fazzino died in Vietnam in 1968. Three years later, Brooks’ brother Richard Morgan was killed on a combat mission in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam.
 
The men are two of a dozen Falls veterans who died in Vietnam.
 
After 44 years, Amos said it’s still comforting to talk to someone like Brooks, who shares “the same feelings.”
 
“People just don’t realize how heart-wrenching it is,” Amos reflected.
 
Amos and Brooks are Gold Star Sisters, a coalition of women who have lost a brother or loved one in battle.
 
The women stood before a line of wreaths that commemorated veterans at the 2012 Bicentennial Memorial Day Service in Oakwood Cemetery on Monday.
 
A parade of veterans from the VFW and American Legion, several boy scout troops, the Cuyahoga Falls High School marching band and a succession of vehicles traveled from Portage Trail to Oakwood Drive, turning into the cemetery where a ceremony was held to honor those who died for their country.
 
The crowd of 10,000 people ushered the parade into the cemetery with applause. A group of men dressed in vintage American war apparel stopped every 100 feet to fire their muskets into the air in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
 
“This year is special,” Mayor Don L. Robart said of the bicentennial celebration. “It’s just amazing the amount of patriotism you feel at this event.”
 
Robart served non-active duty in the Marine Corps Reserves during Vietnam.
 
“Even though I didn’t serve in combat, the older I get the more I appreciate what (the service) did for me,” Robart said.
 
The event is always “solemn,” he said, adding that tears would be unavoidable.
 
The event was sponsored by several area businesses, including Acme and Giant Eagle, which came together to donate 1,800 bottles of water to cool the crowd as the temperature climbed in the upper 80s.
 
Don Sitts Auto Sales Inc. and Akron Monument Granite Co. sponsored a memorial bench, which was unveiled during the ceremony in the cemetery’s south end, an area reserved for veterans.
 
A C27-J transport aircraft commissioned from the Ohio National Guard flew above the crowd to commemorate the event’s 80th year.
 
Dave Sebastian chaired a committee of four who organized the event with the American Legion and V.F.W. Post 1062.
 
Like himself, the crowd was filled with family and friends of veterans. Sebastian’s father served in WWII, and his son recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan.
 
Though he never served, Sebastian appreciates what the event does.
 
“Just honor the vets,” he said. “And don’t forget them.”
 
Amos and Brooks agree. They lost their brothers more than 40 years ago, but events like the Memorial Day parade carry on the memory of those who have served.
 
For those who have lost a loved one in battle, “a piece of their heart is gone,” Brooks said.
 
“It’s nice to know that people outside the family remember,” Amos added, remembering the epitaph on her brother’s tombstone, “Step softly. A dream lies buried here.”