Invited by a NYS Senator to share the honor of being Grand Marshalls of Cheektowaga Parade

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CHEEKTOWAGA, NY - The Independence Day parade which went down Harlem Road on Friday was led by a group of individuals who know, perhaps more than most, the depth of sacrifice made to keep our nation free.

They were Gold Star Mothers, a distinction one only gets when they lose a son or daughter in service to our nation.

NY State Senator Tim Kennedy, when selected to serve as Grand Marshall of the Cheektowaga parade, decided to share that honor with them.

"It's a great honor," said Cathleen MacFarlane of Lockport, whose son Albert was killed in Iraq in 2009 when a suicide bomber drove into his humvee. "Not a lot of community members know what a gold star mom is, and this is another way to show the community who we are."

"I march for the ones that didn't make it and the ones that are here," said Marleen Janiseski, whose son Phillip died in Afghanistan in 2004, when the gun he and another soldier were attempting to mount on a vehicle accidentally fired. "They're all my kids now. That's why I march for them -- to all be remembered."

It has been 25 years since Georgian Davis lost her son, Nathaniel Jones Jr., in the turret explosion which occurred aboard the U.S.S Iowa off the coast of Cuba. That disaster claimed the lives of 47 sailors. "I said to myself, I'm going to continue that oath my child took to serve," Davis told WGRZ-TV.

An improvised explosive device in Iraq killed Holly Baker's son, Brian, during his second tour of duty there on November 7, 2004. "When the day comes that God calls me to heaven and I see him and my son again, I want him to be as proud of me, as I am of him," she said.

Watch the story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bill Boyer in the video player above.

Follow Dave on Twitter:

@DaveMcKinley2

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