Memorial Day triggers a range of memories for people, from neighborhood parades, family barbecues, and baseball tournaments to somber military services.

To Frank Chiacchio, a retired Navy veteran now involved with the Battleship New Jersey moored on the Camden waterfront, Memorial Day brings faint recollections of two men he barely knew. They are his uncle Samuel Chiacchio, who died in the Allied landing at Anzio, Italy, in early 1944, and his godfather, Guy Gaufetti, who was killed the following October when a Japanese kamikaze pilot struck his troop ship in the Gulf of Leyte in the Philippines.

Chiacchio was 6 when his godfather died. And though he can't remember much of how he felt, "I knew he wasn't going to be a part of my life."

Chiacchio also served in the Navy, from 1956 through 1960, and now coordinates docent services on the New Jersey, where a memorial service Monday honored those who served and lost their lives in the nation's wars.

"What really struck me is how many of these men were young, single men, because that's who you send to fight," Chiacchio said. "They were young, they were single, they had no children. And then, years later, there's nobody left to remember them. That whole generation is passing away."

From Abington and Bridesburg to Radnor and Washington Crossing, communities throughout the region organized parades and other events. The holiday was begun in 1868 as Decoration Day to honor those who died in the Civil War by placing flowers at their graves.

In Bucks County, at Washington Crossing State Park, a ceremony recognized those who died in the 1776 winter campaign of the Revolutionary War.

In Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter spoke at services at the Korean War Memorial at Second and Dock Streets and at the Vietnam War Memorial at Front and Spruce Streets.

Across the Delaware aboard the New Jersey, an honor guard from the Knights of Columbus dropped a memorial wreath of red, white, and blue carnations over the side into the river to the sound of Taps and a three-gun salute. Those in attendance were invited to toss individual roses into the water in memory of loved ones.

On the Main Line, hundreds of people lined Lancaster Avenue from Radnor to Wayne, waving small American flags as local veterans of foreign wars - World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan - passed in decorated cars.

They were followed by marching bands from Radnor and Archbishop Carroll High Schools, scout troops, and others.

"For those of us who served, it's an important day," said Bill Delafield, 70, of Villanova, an Army National Guard veteran wearing red, white, and blue suspenders over a light-blue golf shirt. "You do your patriotic stuff in the morning, then barbecue in the afternoon."

Said Mark Brozina, 54, of Wayne, whose father served in the Navy Reserve and who died about a year ago:

"As you get older, you get a greater appreciation of what the holiday means."

Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.