"Their Service... Our Freedom..." The Annual West Side Parade

By: Erin Logan Email
By: Erin Logan Email

Their service..our freedom. It's a belief we share as Americans as we remember those who fought for our freedom this Memorial Day.

That belief was shared on the streets of South Bend at the annual West Side parade. Well, except for those who are too young to understand what exactly is going on here.

“I'm gonna see a shark. You're hoping to see a shark? Yep. I'm gonna see a big horsey.”

Three year-old Dean Ernsperger waited patiently and he did see what he wanted...the horse, policemen, firefighters, cars, and clowns..all the highlights kids enjoy at a parade.

His grandmother, Barb Latomski says she's setting the stage early on to teach Dean and his 19 month old sister Macy, what the true meaning of the marching, cheering, and waving is all about.

Latomski says, “To me personally, it means remembering all those that fought for us and giving thanks for what we have..freedom.”

To show their appreciation, she and her husband Michael have been to over 50 of these annual West Side parades.

Latomski says, “My son in law told me in a few years he's going to put me in an adult stroller. I'll be here for a long time. It's just grown and its just great to see it continue on.”

In 2005, 72 units were in the parade. Last year, there were 95 and this year there were 105.

As the parade has grown, so has the group of people with Barb and Michael. They have two additional generations with them.

They says, “We are thankful we have a big family..oh yes. That's everything and it's only half with us.”

While the Lutomsky's celebrate Memorial Day as a way of showing appreciation for what they have...their thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those who died while fighting for our freedom.

Standing close by them were the parents of Paul Deguch, a fallen South Bend police officer who died in the line of duty almost ten years ago.

The Lutomski's say everyone should be proud of these heroes whether they were family members, friends, or strangers.

Lutomski says, “I hope they all remember what this day really is.”

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