Letter to the Editor: Thanks, Dearborn, for a Memorable Memorial Day
Craig Tillman, Vietnam veteran and commander of the Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council, comments on a very moving parade last Monday.
On behalf of the Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council, thank you to all the generous sponsors, supporters, participants, volunteers, and spectators for their part in creating the 87th Annual Dearborn Memorial Day Parade. Everyone who saw it was moved. It was especially meaningful for veterans and their families.
The day brought back a lot of memories. Seeing the commemorative remembrance posters with faces of guys I went to school with and guys I knew who went to other schools–69 of them who lost their lives in the Vietnam War–all coming down Michigan Avenue, seeing the Huey helicopter flying overhead. All of it tugged at the heart strings.
It was great to be surrounded by veterans from different eras. Without them there we couldn’t have a Memorial Day Parade. People came Virginia, Indiana, Washington, D.C., and in cities across our state to be part of this Welcome Home for Vietnam Veterans. It takes so many people to pull this event together I want to thank them all.
The city of Dearborn, Mayor O’Reilly, business leaders, service and military organizations all give us great support. This year, their generosity enabled us to add additional tributes to our fallen service men and women.
Sponsors for the Memorial Day Parade, Ceremony and Tribute to Vietnam Veterans include: Ford Motor Company, Foundation for American Veterans, Dearborn Federal Savings Bank, LaFontaine Automotive Group, C. “Andy” Anderson and American Speedy Printing Taylor, Byblos Banquet Hall and Joe Bazzi, Westborn Market, Kroger (Michigan and Greenfield) and Manager Mike Strong, Eppinger Manufacturing Co., Bianco Travel, Thrifty Florists and Spirits Plus.
Other contributors to the success of the day include: Ford Motor Veterans Network Group, Dearborn Hills Golf Course, Ron Hountchins and the Sons of American Legion Squadron 364, American Legion 364, American Legion Auxiliary Post 364, VFW 2107, VVA 267, Young Marines of Genesee County, Ron and Linda Dewaard with Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 73, Glen Veno and John Walker with American Huey 369, Daniel Duderstadt, Mary Fleury, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard, the Yankee Air Force, Yankee Air Museum, Willow Run Airport; the individual pilots who flew the T6 Texans, Michigan Military Moms, Curtis Sumter, AMVETS Riders, Patriot Guard, Dearborn High School’s Marching Band and Music Director Jeff Oshnock, Kira Frabutt, Nina Ledesma, Veteran of the Year Dan Ryder, Grand Marshal Adrian Cronauer, Special Guests Adam Arbogast and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Ken Diegel and the Vietnam Veterans of Michigan State Council, Nancy Diegel and the Vietnam Veterans Associates State of Michigan, Marty Eddy and the National League of POW/MIA Families.
Thank you to members of both the Memorial Day Parade and Veterans Family Picnic Committees, to the many volunteers and city of Dearborn employees whose efforts ensured a fitting tribute to those who died in service to our country. Thank you to all the military, veterans and community groups, school bands, flyover pilots and volunteer drivers, including Ron Bukowski.
Much gratitude to all who participated and shared in the Memorial Day tributes, including the pre-parade military funeral procession, including: members of St. Andrew’s Pipe Band: Donald Ross, Jim Lyon and Larry Tomlinson; Neal Fogel; Buffalo Soldiers, lead by Jimmy Buchanan; SSG John Meyer and his team with United States Army Casualty Assistance; Col. Keith Sousa, supervisor staff administrator for the 645th Regional Support Group; Bill Querfeld and the Querfeld Funeral Home Inc.; Gino Polidori; Rick Snyder; Great Lakes Towing and John Kruger with Dearborn Collision.
Finally, the 2011 Memorial Day Parade was designed to honor the 69 men from Dearborn who lost their lives in the Vietnam War and their surviving families and friends. These we called our Gold Star Families. Thank you to all who traveled from near and far to join us for the day. I hope we conveyed our honor for your loved ones.
Thank you to teacher Lisa Lark for her ideas, research and passion for those who served and fell in Vietnam. Thank you to all who helped with her Dearborn Vietnam Veterans Family Project including Michelle Kerr, Dennis and Carol Lark of Lark Logistics, Kimberly Dyer, Sebastian Encina and her students at Edsel Ford High School.
I can’t begin to express what it means to me and the other Vietnam Veterans to see thousands of Dearborn residents and visitors lining Michigan Avenue with flags waving, sometimes saluting, thanking us for our service, remembering those who didn’t come back from the war. I’ll never forget it.
Commander, Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council