During Memorial Day activities in Saline Monday, thousands honored those men and women who perished in service of America.
The sweltering heat seemed to reduce the size of the crowd in downtown Saline. Still, those in attendance enthusiastically applauded as veterans marched by in the parade. The heat was also blamed for lower attendance at the service at Oakwood cemetery. But those in attendance were appreciative of the words and prayers offered by the speakers.
The parade’s Grand Marshal was Daniel Patrick. He is director for the Fisher House Michigan, which is raising funds to build a home that will house families of veterans who are receiving treatment at the Veterans’ Hospital in Ann Arbor. Patrick said that on Memorial Day, Americans – veterans, active duty and civilians – take time to honor those who sacrificed for our country.
“It’s about the sacrifice and gift that they gave us. The path of their life and the tragedy of their death and the gift of their sacrifice are foundation on which this nation was built – the foundation we continue to strengthen, every generation,” Patrick said.
Patrick quoted former President Abraham Lincoln, who said that a nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure. Patrick talked about the right way to honor America’s heroes.
“Remembering isn’t enough. We have to do what our brothers and sisters died for us to pursue: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Patrick said. “We have to live in a way that honors that sacrifice. So I challenge you to accept their gift and to live – to truly live abundantly. I challenge you to laugh unapologetically. I challenge you to work earnestly. I challenge you to live graciously. Do the things that our brothers and sisters can’t do any longer. Never take advantage of the gift we have and the breath still in our lungs.
City of Saline Mayor Brian Marl said American service men and women risk everything for America’s love affair with freedom. He paraphrased former President George W. Bush.
“Freedom is not America’s gift to the world. Freedom is God’s gift to every man, woman and child on this earth,” Marl said.
Marl said America’s commitment to freedom will endure – but the commitment is not enough.
“We must remember our past, remain cognizant of our history and we cannot forget those who sacrificed and died for our nation,” Marl said. “Perhaps now, more than ever, the world needs a strong and engaged America. One that inspires, not just because of the strength of military, but because of the power of our ideals.”
Marl called on Americans to recommit to the fight for freedom and to acknowledge and care for those serve a higher cause than themselves.
“Because the fate of humanity depends on them,” Marl said.
Retired US Navy nuclear submarine Captain Phil Klintworth spoke briefly before reading the names of each of the 64 submarines lost and how many were killed or captured. After listing each submarine, a bell was tolled.
“The tolling of the ship's bell reminds us of the gratitude we owe to our departed shipmates and those in active service, who silently guard the honor of our country,” Klintworth said.
Saline resident Paul Schwimmer is a member of History Flight, which is working to find the remains of 80,000 missing-in-action and prisoner-of-war soldiers. Since 2011, they’ve brought home 124 Americans. Schwimmer recalled a recent example. In 1944, Lt. Donald Underwood died on the island of Tarawa. They found his remains, which were returned to the United States.
“They were met at the airport by his 91-year-old surviving brother. So you can’t tell me that people don’t appreciate bringing our children home,” Schwimmer said.
Following the service, many veterans visited the Saline American Legion Post for a lunch that was provided by Robison Bahnmiller Funeral Home.