Short parades were held in Grand Haven and Spring Lake on Monday morning, followed by special ceremonies at the end of the routes: Grand Haven’s Waterfront Stadium and the Spring Lake Township cemetery, respectively.
Staff Sgt. Joe Schulte — a 10-year veteran of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety who has served two tours in Iraq as a member of the National Guard — was the keynote orator for the Memorial Day ceremony at Waterfront Stadium. He talked about what Memorial Day meant to him and looked back on the loss of American men and women in wars over the country’s 200-plus years.
“The one thing that will never change about war is the grief and sorrow felt by the families and friends of the soldiers that fall,” Schulte said.
The Grand Haven man recalled encouraging a young man to join the Army, and later attending his funeral after he died in the service to his country.
“In 150 years, I can guarantee that the sorrow that a mother feels when her son or daughter is killed in battle has not changed one bit,” Schulte said. “I pray that it doesn’t change, because it’s that sorrow that makes our leaders think before they commit us to a war, and it’s that sorrow that helps us remember why we’re fighting for an end to that war.”
Noting that Monday was the last time he would be addressing the city’s Memorial Day ceremony as Grand Haven’s mayor after eight years, Roger Bergman thanked the stadium audience for gathering there “to recognize our fallen heroes.”
“But I also implore you to think, for a moment, about those that are in harm’s way today — and those who will defend us tomorrow,” he said.
Raymond Strobel sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” having the crowd join him on several verses. Retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth Kelly read the annual roll call of local veterans who died during the past year, and four young girls then tossed flowers into the Grand River from the stern of a Coast Guard boat.
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