GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio-- For 27-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran Nicholas Hadzinsky, Memorial Day would not be complete without a visit to the War Memorial in his hometown of Garrettsville.
A series of large stone tablets honor the hundreds of servicemen from the town who have served the country in every war dating back to the Revolutionary War, including the man who established Garrettsville, Colonel John Garrett.
Nicholas Hadzinsky's name is on the wall, for his decorated service in Iraq, and on this holiday, he is thinking about the men he served with, some of whom did not come home. Hadzinsky said, "Just thinking about it, brings tears to my eyes. I love those boys. I would do anything for them."
Hadzinsky made an important decision this Memorial Day, to surprise his girlfriend, Elizabeth Check, by proposing to her during the Garrettsville Memorial Day parade.
His family said it was the worst-kept secret in town. Nicholas’ father, Steve Hadzinsky told FOX 8, "He did make a huge mistake, letting his mother know. I think she held on to the secret for every bit of 45 seconds, and she told me and I told the world."
It seems that Elizabeth was the only person who didn't know about Nicholas' plan. "I actually didn't know he was going to be in the parade. They surprised me. He told me he had a flat tire and he wasn't going to make it, so I was so shocked when I saw him," said Check.
As the car Nicholas was riding in got close to where Elizabeth was standing along the parade route, he got out and walked to the girl he met and fell in love with while attending Cleveland State.
"I'm like 'oh, oh god,' and I saw the little box and was like 'oh my gosh.' I was just hoping that he was going to propose," she said. The answer to Nicholas Hadzinsky's Memorial Day proposal was yes.
"She knows how much I love her. I tell her every day how much I love her, but I just wanted to let her know how special she is," he said.
Nicholas and Elizabeth plan to get married a year from now, so that some of the Marines that Nicholas served with, will be able to stand beside him on the big day.