Memorial Day Parade Returns to Saline as Community Honors Fallen Soldiers
Saline marked the Memorial Day holiday in traditional fashion Monday, with its first parade since 2019 and a ceremony at Oakwood Cemetery.
Every year, Americans honor the servicemen and women who died in service of the country on Memorial Day. Salinians traditionally marked the occasion with a parade along Michigan Avenue and service at the cemetery. Due to the pandemic, Saline did not schedule a parade in 2020 and 2021. A service was held at the cemetery in 2021.
The parade's return was treated with sunny blue skies and warm weather. The crowd wasn't exactly thick. People spread out to find places in the shade along US-12, between Harris Street and Monroe Street. Some of the largest crowds were outside of St. Paul's.
The parade was led by a Saline Police Department cruiser driven by Sgt. Chris Boulter.
Four members of the Civil Air Patrol were the first marchers in the parade.
Next up were members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Washtenaw County Chapter 310.
This year, the parade's Grand Marshal was U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Juknelis (left).
David Saims, Post Commander for Saline American Legion Post 322.
Councillor's Dean Girbach and Kevin Camero-Sulak hold the Saline City Council banner, as Councillor Janet Dillon and Mayor Brian Marl walk behind them.
The local Knight of Columbus chapter carried their banner the length of the parade.
It wouldn't be a Saline parade without Scouts.
This scout might have led the parade in flag waving.
The Saline Twirlettes also performed during the parade.
The majorettes and color guard led the Saline High School Marching Band.
Dr. Rob Borer, a Saline resident and chiropractor, walked in the parade to advertise his upcoming run for Congress.
The Saline Area Girl Scouts were also well represented during the parade.
The Saline New Horizons Band also performed patriotic music during the parade from the back of a wagon.
Like Saline parades usually do, the Memorial Day parade concluded with a bright red Saline Area Fire Department engine.
The crowd on US-12 waves to the Saline firefighters in the engine.
Hundreds of people who watched the parade followed to Oakwood Cemetery.
Veteran Tim Driscoll was emcee once again.
"Today is our Memorial Day in Saline, Michigan. The time, the day, it stops the clock of our hurried lives to honor our country's military men and women who have died for this country's freedom, safety and future," Driscoll said. "Our nation is a beacon to the world, for what is possible and a beacon to show other countries what they should strive for. I wish they would pay attention."
On a holiday dedicated to honoring our war dead, there were many references to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"Dear Lord, let freedom ring. We pray daily for our heroes for making it so. The truth is, my heart aches with every beat for all the countries' people that are under the utmost total destruction of their cities and towns by the communists," Driscoll said.
The Saline High School Marching band plays America.
Retired US Army Lt. Col. Eric Engelmeier, left, board president of the Saline American Legion Post 322, introduces his friend and Grand Marshal U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Juknelis.
U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Juknelis, Grand Marshal of the parade, served with Col. Eric Engelmeier in Iraq. Juknelis said the Saline community would have been proud of the service of their soldiers in Iraq.
"They really made a difference in the war effort and they made a positive impact on the lives of the Iraqi people," Juknelis said.
"On this Memorial Day, Americans will honor veterans who have served this country, and especially remember those who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom. They fought and sacrificed so that others might live in peace - free from fear, tyranny and aggression," Juknelis said. "Today our thoughts are full of thankfulness and pride as we reflect on our nation's heritage of liberty under law and the continuing expansion of Democratic ideals around the globe."
Mayor Brian Marl began his remarks by highlighting the lyrics of abolitionist Julia Ward Howe's Hymn of the Republic.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
Marl tied the lyrics to the Civil War and quoted former President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, noting that 800,000 Americans died during the Civil War.
"The sacrifice of these soldiers and sailors united a fractured nation," Marl said, "helped eradicate slavery, and the malignancy of intolerance and subjugation. But the cost was so very high. Only the unknowing would deny or disregard the level of selflessness or sacrifice. Far too many paid the ultimate price for dignity and freedom. They died for it. As the song goes, 'as he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.'"
Marl asked the audience if they would honor those who sacrificed by living good lives.
"Will you live a life of zest and enthusiasm, contributing to the dignity of man? Will you live for and fight for a more just society? Will you recommit yourself to basic American values? Honesty. Service. Dedication and hard work. Will you continue to pray for, care for and revere all those who serve causes greater than themselves? I truly hope that you will," Marl said.
Marl said that despite America's imperfections, it is an exceptional place.
Flowers graced the headstones of veterans buried at Oakwood Cemetery.
The flag waves behind the World War I doughboy statue.
Wreaths are placed at the cenotaph honoring the fallen soldiers and sailors.
Vietnam Veterans of America Charles S. Kettles Chapter 210 president Stan garrison lays a wreath in front of the grave of Cpl. Russell A Michalke, who died in the Vietnam War.
The Veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County salutes the dead with a rifle volley.
A member of the SHS Marching Band performs TAPS.
Dave Rittinger salutes during the playing of TAPS.
The ceremony ended with the SHS Marching Band, directed by Nate Lampman, playing the Star Spangled Banner.
Following the ceremony, the community was invited to a free luncheon at the Saline American Legion. The luncheon was sponsored by Robison-Bahnmiller Funeral Home.