Respect. Honor. Remember.

May 15, 2017

Chicago’s Memorial Day Parade and Wreath Laying Ceremony is Saturday, May 27
Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh Will Serve as Grand Marshal


The City of Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events are honored to announce the Grand Marshal for Chicago’s Memorial Day Parade and Wreath Laying Ceremony on Saturday, May 27. The Wreath Laying Ceremony will begin at 11am on Daley Plaza (Dearborn and Washington Streets). The parade will then step off at noon and proceed south on State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren Street. Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command and Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration, will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshal.

During the Wreath Laying Ceremony and Parade, the City of Chicago honors fallen heroes and Gold Star family members who have lost a loved one in the United States Armed Forces to combat operations or while on active duty. Approved by Congress beginning in 1947, Gold Star Lapel Pins and the Next of Kin Lapel Pins are presented to families not as an award, but as symbols of honor worn by family members in remembrance of their fallen loved ones and their ultimate sacrifice.


Parade Grand Marshal

United States Marine Corps, Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command and Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration, will serve as the Grand Marshal. Lieutenant General Walsh attended the U.S. Naval Academy and went on to become a Naval Aviator in 1981. After attending the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School and serving on two deployments, he assumed the duties as a flight instructor at TOPGUN in 1987.  In 2002, he graduated from the National War College in Washington D.C. with a Masters in Science in National Security Strategy. He has served in countless command posts to include as the Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing deploying the wing to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009. He assumed his current command in August 2015. For the Wreath Laying Ceremony and Parade, he will join Mayor Rahm Emanuel along with service members, veterans and Gold Star families in remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.


Major General John A. Logan Patriot Award

John Schwan is this year’s recipient of the Major General John A. Logan Patriot Award for his leadership, patriotism and selfless devotion to serving veterans and active duty military through Operation Support Our Troops America, a foundation dedicated to improving the lives of soldiers currently serving and aiding returning veterans in finding employment and other services.  Mr. Schwan is active in the Sheridan First Cavalry Chapter, and serves as a board member for Leave No Veteran Behind as well as for the Pritzker Military Museum and Library.  He is also the chairman of the Armed Forces Council at the Union League Club of Chicago. Mr. Schwan is a Vietnam era veteran, having served 1966-1971 and was in country during parts of 1967 and 1968. He attended OCS at Fort Benning with active duty in the First Air Cavalry Division. He is a service-related disabled veteran; awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Air Medal, two Bronze Stars with V for Valor device and a Purple Heart. He has been an entrepreneur for over 40 years and is currently the CEO of CTI Industries in Barrington, IL.


Cadets of the Year Award

The mission of the JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens. Each year the City of Chicago acknowledges the outstanding contributions of our cadets to our community by honoring JROTC students with the Cadet of the Year Award. Cadet Brigadier General Cinthia Estrada, a student at Lane Tech College Prep, and Cadet Colonel Samuel Ferguson, a student at the Phoenix Military Academy, have been chosen this year for their commitment to excellence and as role models to their peers. Both students have stellar academic records and are deserving of this award. Each cadet will receive a scholarship for future academic endeavors awarded by Tom Day and his organization Bugles Across America.

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, first observed on May 30, 1868, was called Decoration Day. The modern day event is similar, but the original idea has been expanded and now honors all fallen soldiers.

The Chicago parade is 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 cadets and the military. Parade participants will also include the singing of the National Anthem by Aleece Baker on behalf of the USO of Illinois as well as a procession of antique military vehicles provided by the USO.

The Chicago Memorial Day Parade and Wreath Laying Ceremony are presented by the City of Chicago. For more information about the Illinois Gold Star, visit For more information regarding the ceremony and the parade, please visit


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.


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