Citizens of Vicksburg, Miss. celebrated their 34th annual Memorial Day parade May 27, 2013, and Soldiers of the 412th Theater Engineer joined in providing the color guard to commemorate our nation's fallen heroes.

1st Sgt. Richard Broussard, first sergeant, 412th TEC Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Staff Sgt. Cedric Douglas, Sgt. Otis Jordan, Spc. Malayna Blair and Spc. Matthew Young, marched down Washington Street with local veterans, Vicksburg National Military Park officers, city and county police personnel, Civil War re-enactors and many others.

The procession wended its way to the Vicksburg City Auditorium where several speakers addressed the patriots assembled to honor the war dead of the United States. "Lest We Forget" was the theme.

During the speech of keynote speaker Col. Jeffrey R. Eckstein, commander, Vicksburg District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, made a special point to honor attendees who currently have family members serving overseas.

Mr. Willie J. Glasper, commander of the Sons of the American Legion Post 213, in Vicksburg, also thanked the many people and organizations that made this day of remembrance possible. He also included the 412th TEC in his gratitude for their contribution of the color guard.

"We can always count on the 412th every year," he said.

Douglas himself has been part of the 412th TEC Memorial Day color guard for the past seven years.

"I am a part of this community, so I love this," Douglas said, also a member of the American Legion Post 213.

After the service at the auditorium, a motorcade drove to the Vicksburg National Cemetery for the wreath laying ceremony, where a firing detail of 412th TEC Soldiers rendered honors.

Many towns and cities across the nation have claimed the honor of observing the "first" Memorial Day.

1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y. to be the official location where Memorial Day began. On May 5, 1866, a ceremony honored local veterans who fought in the Civil War.

The first large observance, about 5,000 people, was held May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery, and was called Decoration Day. Flowers and small American flags were placed on the graves.

"It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars," according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. "In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May."

After the wreath laying ceremony, Douglas was on his way to have a meal at the American Legion Post 213. He likes to hang out with the World War II and Purple Heart veterans, he said.

"I feel great, it is a great day to be a Soldier, a great day to be in the community helping out in any way I can," Douglas said.