By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
In both Addison Township and Oxford, there will be no Memorial Day ceremonies or parade this year. One tradition which still continues, however, is the posting of flags at the gravesites of local veterans.
Sherry Beens, a committee member of Lakeville Cemetery Auxiliary, posted 186 American flags at veteran gravesites in Lakeville. The flags will stay up until the Fourth of July. The American Legion Walter Fraser Post 108 will place just under 1,000 flags at six local cemeteries, including Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery in Oxford, this Saturday, May 23.
Every year when there is not a pandemic, there is a ceremony at Addison Township’s historic Lakeville Cemetery the Saturday before Memorial Day, with music, flag-raising, prayers, keynote speakers, the placing of a memorial wreath and a 21-gun salute.
On Memorial Day, citizens gather at Downtown Oxford’s Centennial Park for speeches, prayers and the placing of dog tags on white crosses representing those of Oxford who died in conflicts ranging from the Civil War to the Vietnam War.
A parade follows the ceremony, heading north along M-24, then west on W. Burdick St. to Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery. A second ceremony in the cemetery includes prayers, the placing of a wreath, the playing of “Taps” and a 21-gun salute.
Last year, Oxford’s keynote speaker was Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who represents Michigan’s 8th District.
This year’s keynote speaker would have been American Legion Post 108 Commander Dave Perry, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
Since he can’t deliver his remarks in person this year, Perry shared with The Leader what he would have said this Memorial Day:
Memorial Day 25 May 2020
For many folks, Memorial Day marks the first three-day weekend of the season or the start of summer vacations. One of the most important functions of the American Legion and other veterans organizations is to remind folks of the true meaning of Memorial Day.
We thank all of our Veterans for their service and sacrifices. Memorial Day however, is not about recognizing those who gave some, but to remember those who gave all. Today, honor the memory of those who gave their lives in military service to our country and deepen your reverence for our fallen. Let’s renew our pledge of loyalty to our country and its flag – and emphasize, by word and deed, the privilege and duty of patriotism.
In our nation’s history, after the Civil War and up to present time, there have been over 624,000 U.S. casualties defending our freedom and way of life! There are still over 40,000 military service people missing in action, more than 30,000 of those are from WW II, and 1,600 from Vietnam.
Memorial Day is the day that’s set aside to remember, with gratitude and pride, all those who served and died for our freedom. Please make your Memorial Day reflective of those who made it possible.
Dave Perry Commander
American Legion Post 108