War Memorial holiday celebration to honor veterans, first responders

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 12, 2017

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — They put themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives of others, so The War Memorial is giving a special gift to veterans, current service members and first responders, along with their family members.

For the third year, The War Memorial is partnering with the Wins for Warriors Foundation to present 1,000 Christmas Salutes, a family-oriented celebration with food, music, screenings of “The Polar Express” and more — all of it free for Michigan military members, veterans, first responders and their relatives.

To accommodate up to 1,000 guests, The War Memorial is offering three seatings on Dec. 17 and is asking anyone interested in attending to make reservations as soon as possible for one of those time slots: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2:30 to 4 p.m., or 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Kara Noto, director of media and communications at The War Memorial, said there will be food stations, cookie decorating stations, holiday crafts, hot chocolate stations and more for participants, all in a festive, decorated lakeside setting. Santa will be on hand for photo opportunities with the little ones.

“We’re also going to have musical performances throughout the building,” Noto said.

With the three different seating times, “You can structure your day in a way that works for you,” she said.

Wins for Warriors Foundation is a nonprofit veterans support organization that was established in 2013 by former Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander.

“We can’t say thank you often enough,” Wins for Warriors Executive Director and CEO Christie Williams said in a press release. “1,000 Christmas Salutes is a holiday event in a year-round effort to raise awareness in our communities, and mobilize support around incredible military families.”

The War Memorial is “really grateful” to team up with Wins for Warriors for the third year on this event, Noto said.

“Not even a World Series win could stand in the way of their commitment to 1,000 Christmas Salutes,” she said, acknowledging Verlander’s World Series win this season with the Houston Astros, to which he was traded this summer.

1,000 Christmas Salutes has become one of the signature events The War Memorial offers to honor veterans and active duty service members. Families with a loved one currently serving overseas are welcome to attend as well, Noto said.

“From our organizational outset, The War Memorial has operated as a regional base to honor and support generations of Michigan military veterans,” War Memorial President and CEO Charles Burke said in a press release. “Programs and partnerships like 1,000 Christmas Salutes are an affirmation of our commitment to continuously expand upon that duty, and to extend our gratitude to the families that have stepped up to serve.”

For the second year, the event is also extending an invitation to first responders — police officers, firefighters, public safety officers, paramedics and the like.

“We’re really happy that we can invite them,” Noto said.

Noto said she wasn’t sure how many people attended 1,000 Christmas Salutes last year.

“I know we had a great turnout,” she said.

They’re hoping to get good crowds again this year.

“These kinds of programs … are in our institutional DNA as The War Memorial,” Noto said. “From day one, The War Memorial has been about celebrating and raising awareness of those who have served.”

The War Memorial is located at 32 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Farms.

For reservations or more information, call (313) 881-7511 or visit www.warmemorial.org/holidays.