Michael and Susan Andrews figure they have been to most of the Memorial Day celebrations in Tallmadge going back to 1975, when they moved to the small Summit County city.

Mike, a veterinarian at Tallmadge Animal Hospital, was also an Army veterinarian from 1968-69 in the Vietnam War, where his responsibilities included rabies research and helping keep military dogs healthy.

Memorial Day means many things to him but in particular, freedom, Mike said Monday as he and his wife waited for the city’s annual parade to go by. (He’s also marched in the parade in previous years.)

“It’s a reminder to everybody of the cost of freedom,” he said. “You want all those who sacrificed their lives be remembered.”

All those lives were remembered in countless Memorial Day commemorations Monday in places large and small across the country.

The 149th annual Memorial Day parade in Tallmadge attracted a good crowd, noted James Forsythe, commander of American Legion Post 255.

“We always have a good turnout here,” he said. Forsythe, who oversaw the Memorial Day ceremony at the end of the parade route in Tallmadge Cemetery, said he has been taking part in Memorial Day activities since the 1950s.

The program featured guest speaker U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Teodosio, live music, an honor guard and the playing of taps.

Monday’s ceremony also included the unveiling of a Blue Star Memorial plaque at the cemetery, sponsored by the Northeast Garden Club of Tallmadge and others. The markers, whose blue star is based on service flags, honor the U.S. armed forces; the program dates back to 1945.

“I can’t think of a more important holiday to celebrate,” Teodosio said. He talked about the history of Memorial Day, its start as Decoration Day to honor the Civil War dead, to becoming a day dedicated to all military people who died in service to the country.

“Today is a day to be with family,” Teodosio said. “But please, please don’t forget why we have this day.”

Count Lisa Shauver as among those who didn’t need reminding. She watched the parade and ceremony with her 10-year-old son, Max Goodchild.

“We come out to the parade every year,” she said. “I try to make sure we think about the veterans and who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ  on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ