Chicago’s Memorial Day Parade and Wreath Laying Ceremony

Scheduled for Saturday, May 26, 2012
Dedicated to Those Who Served in the Iraq War and Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Taps

The City of Chicago has scheduled its annual Wreath Laying Ceremony and Memorial Day Parade for Saturday, May 26, 2012. The Wreath Laying Ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the Eternal Flame on Daley Plaza (Dearborn and Washington Streets). The parade will step off at noon and proceed south on State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren Street.

In addition to honoring all men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country, this year’s parade will be dedicated to soldiers who fought and died in the Iraq War, which started in March 2003 and ended in December 2011.

A special recognition of the Illinois Gold Star Families will be included in the ceremony.

The parade will also commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Taps. In 1862, Oliver Wilcox Norton wrote what he called “the hardest 24 notes to play”. The parade this year will feature a special tribute to this all too familiar cadence of notes first played by Wilcox during the Civil War.

The Chicago parade is now considered one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation. Participants in the parade include area high school Marching Bands, Drum and Bugle Corps as well as many Veterans’ groups, 6,000 JROTC students and the military.

Memorial Day has a rich history. It began shortly after the Civil War ended when General John Logan proclaimed that the 30th day of May be designated for the purpose of decorating the graves of soldiers who died; the day was called Decoration Day. It was first observed on May 30, 1868. The modern day event is similar, but the original idea has been expanded and now honors all fallen soldiers.

The Chicago Memorial Day Parade is presented by the City of Chicago. For more information please call the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events at (312) 744-3316 or visit

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