War veteran Matthew Drake honored at Sylvania Memorial Day parade. (Source: WTOL)
SYLVANIA, OH (WTOL) -
The procession of people, entertainment, and of course free candy had dozens lining main street in Sylvania for the Memorial Day Parade Monday, but the most important reason they’re all here?
"We're honoring military vets... very important I love it,” said bystander Judy Devilbiss.
One of those vets is Matthew Drake. He's serving as Grand Marshal this year.
“It feels amazing to be honored this way,” Matthew said.
Many may remember Matthew's story - he served as a member of the Army's Psychological Operations. But a little over a month after arriving in Iraq in 2004, he was seriously injured in a suicide bombing while driving near the Syrian border with four of his comrades. He was the sole survivor.
“Somebody has to be the good guys,” Matthew said slowly while addressing a crowd in Sylvania. “And I wanted to be one of them.”
Matthew is still recovering from his injuries 12 years later, including traumatic brain damage that slows his speech, but he says he would do it all over again. Surrounded by the support of the Sylvania community he grew up in, he wants others to know how much days like today mean to the other men and women who serve our country.
“It’s very important for veterans, because it not only honors them, but the sacrifices of their brothers and sisters before them,” Matthew said.
Matthew received a standing ovation at the memorial service following the parade, but it’s him who is applauding the community for taking notice and to others like him who've given us all our freedom.
“Thank you all for honoring and paying attention and thank you for serving,” Matthew said.
WTOL 11 introduced you to Matthew and his road to recovery before. Click here to take a look back at his process returning home from war.