“I only wear this hat on Memorial Day and July Fourth,” said Don Haller, of his USS Missouri cap, the ship he served on in the Navy.
Arborcrest Memorial Park in Ann Arbor held its 33rd Annual Memorial Day ceremony on Sunday, May 24. While people were barbecuing and shopping Memorial Day sales, the ceremony to honor the country’s fallen heroes began with the presentation of the flags with the Veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County and the Boy Scouts Troops 1, 4, and 27.
Saline Mayor Brian Marl hosted the event and reminded everyone of the real reason to celebrate Memorial Day, and the importance of honoring our veterans.
The crowd stood for the Pledge of Allegiance and Miss Washtenaw County 2014, Alexandria Strother, sang the National Anthem.
The Boy Scouts lowered the flag to half staff before the invocation by Chaplain Ruth Tapio of St. Joseph Hospital before Tony England, a former astronaut who flew on the Challenger in 1985 spoke of his two brothers who served in the armed forces.
“Memorial Day is every day,” said John Kinzinger, an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War. “I’m sure that all of you have loved ones that you think about every day.” He’s attended over 2,000 military funerals over his career as part of the Veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County.
“I wish that everyone in our nation would take a moment to be thankful,” he said.
Strother reminisced about first time she realized that the freedom America takes for granted wasn’t actually free.
“Too many of my friends will spend their weekend at the beach and grilling without even thinking about why we have Monday off,” she said.
Corp. Dilon Page, a Marine Corps. veteran who served from 2008 until 2012 introduced the POW/MIA Remembrance Table, a solemn tradition honoring those who served overseas with their families still awaiting their return.
The Boy Scouts performed the laying of the wreath and Strother performed “Amazing Grace” before Tapio’s benediction.
“We did 150 funerals last year,” said David Royer, a volunteer member of the Veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County. “This year we’ve done 52 funerals and about 4 memorial services like this. It’s the best thing I’ve done since I retired. It’s a great honor.”
The Veterans Honor Guard concluded the ceremony with a 21-gun salute.
“Arborcrest does this extremely well. They’ve done this for a number of years now, and each year is a great reminder of those I’ve served with over the years,” said Chief Ross Ward, a retired veteran of the U.S. Navy. “I did my 30 years, with a tremendous amount of men, many of whom are not here. They won’t be here. And can’t be here. That’s why I’m here.”
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