The City of Chicago held its annual Memorial Day parade May 28 along State Street in the Loop.
Among the numerous contingents in the parade were the Chicago chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights ( AVER ) and the Lakeside Pride Freedom Marching Band.
AVER has participated in the parade for the past 15 years. The organization carried the U.S., rainbow and POW/MIA flags as well as the flags of each branch of the armed services. Behind AVER's contingent, Lakeside Pride Freedom Marching Band played a medley of songs along the parade route.
As AVER passed the reviewing stand, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other dignitaries saluted them while the announcer made note of AVER's status as an LGBT veterans organization.
"On this Memorial Day weekend, we're thankful that we're able to remember our fallen comrades," said Jim Darby, AVER Chicago president. "We're also grateful as LGBT veterans that our comrades can finally be remembered for their service and sacrifice to this country, including at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois, where we laid a wreath and acknowledged our fellow LGBT servicemembers at the first anniversary of the dedication of the only LGBT Veterans Memorial in the VA Cemetery System."
The parade marked one of several activities AVER participated in over the weekend, including providing the Color Guard for the opening ceremony of International Mr. Leather and the 23rd annual Remembrance Ceremony for murdered gay sailor Allen Schindler at the gravesite in Steger, IL.
On Monday, May 30, AVER will charter a bus to Abraham Lincoln National VA Cemetery to hold the first anniversary celebration to the monument to LGBT Veterans. This Monument was dedicated last year on Memorial Day. The ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. The bus will leave from the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted at noon. All are invited to participate. Call Bernie Santarsiero at 312-320-1445 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org .