2018-05-23 / Editorial

Take time to honor those who served, died for our country

Editor’s note: The following guest editorial was written by Edward L. Ronders, director of the Lapeer County Veterans Affairs Office. N ext Monday, set aside time to remember 1.35 million American heroes.

From the American Revolutionary War in 1775 to the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, 1.3 million American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Throughout this weekend, families, friends and veterans will take time to remember those who have served. The weekend begins Friday morning with the arrival of the Michigan Traveling Wall containing the names of all Michigan military who died in Vietnam. The wall will be available Friday and Saturday for viewing.

It is the wall’s second visit to Lapeer County in seven months. Saturday, Ray C’s Harley-Davidson will host a ceremony honoring the fallen at noon. The Lapeer County Veterans Affairs Office will have accredited service officers on hand both days to help veterans access benefits.

Monday, in downtown Lapeer, Imlay City and North Branch and many other towns and cities across Michigan and the nation, veterans will march smartly down Main Street. Sleepy eyed high school bands will gallantly perform. Old Glory will be raised. Taps will be played. The pain from 1.3 million deaths still lays heavy in the hearts of surviving Gold Star family members. It never goes away, generation after generation.

During the Civil War, 750,000 died (both U.S. and Confederate soldiers) the most of any U.S. Conflict. WWII claimed 405,399 deaths, WWI, 116,516, Vietnam 58,209 and Korea 54,246.

Who said freedom is free?

Sadly, though, the toll continues to rise.

Veterans are dying from injuries, disabilities and diseases stemming from their military service. In the past few weeks, several veterans/clients/friends were laid to rest. Others continue the fight against the suffering of war. The Marine who lost a leg to medical complications. The young soldier from Columbiaville, the 90-year-old WWII and Korean vet. Some – too many – succumb to thoughts of suicide. Putting it in perspective, Imlay City veterans have marched in a parade down the city streets on Memorial Day since post WWII. No more. The aging vets can no longer march, sidelined by ailments and dwindling numbers.

That won’t stop the VFW and American Legion posts from gathering Monday morning in downtown. They will proudly hold a ceremony to remember their fallen comrades.

If you want to pay tribute to those who’ve served and those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice, Memorial Day is a day to fire up that grill. Hold your family close and give thanks for all veterans. A silent prayer, each and every day, would be in order.

We cannot and will not forget the 1.3 million veterans who died defending our freedoms.

Coming attractions: This Friday and Saturday, Ray C’s in Lapeer will have a two-day event marking Memorial Day.

June 14: Third annual trip and motor coach tour to Great Lakes National Cemetery departs from American Legion Post 16, 1701 W. Genesee St. at 10 a.m. Following a tour of the Holly-based cemetery, there will be a lunch served back at the Legion. Limited seating, first come-first served. There is no charge for the trip/lunch. Reservations: 810-667-0256.

June 16, 21 and 28: A series of Estate Planning Workshops kicks off at 8:30 a.m. June 16 at the Imlay City VFW Post 2492. Presented by the Lapeer County Bar Association and Legal Services of Eastern Michigan through a United Way grant. There is no fee, thanks to an United Way grant. Attorneys will explain the importance of writing a last will and power of attorney. They will also assist veterans in preparing those documents. Reservations mandatory. To register, call 810-667-0256.

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