By Derrick Blakley

(CBS) – In Auburn Gresham, veterans on Monday staged the first South Side Memorial Day Parade.

It was an effort to pay tribute to Chicago’s African-American veterans.

CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley was there.

In the shadow of the St. Leo Veterans Home, the parade stepped off. It was a full-throated, flag-waving, patriotic tribute, one especially aimed at African-American vets who sometimes feel overlooked.

“Although we have a big city parade, they truly don’t feel a part of it, for whatever reason. And they said we want to do something in our neighborhood,” 17th Ward Ald. David Moore says.

Leading the celebration, as grand marshalls were a pair of World War II veterans: 89-year-old I.L. Brownlow and his 88-year-old brother, Otha. Both are members of a fast disappearing breed.

“I wish we could get more together, if we could find them,” he said.

The parade was also a genuine treat for a neighborhood weary of peace marches after spates of violence.

“It’s a great thing, something for the kids to experience and take a look at what the future could bring for everyone,” resident Kyron Donelson said.

It may have been a small-scale parade and celebration, but it was a big step forward for community pride.


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