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Macomb Township

November 14, 2012

Macomb honors veterans with first annual ceremony

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

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After Macomb Township’s first annual Veterans Day Ceremony, those in attendance walked along the two-year-old memorial outside the town hall. The Macomb Community Foundation organized the ceremony geared toward remembering Macomb’s deceased veterans and honoring those who are still alive.
Macomb Township firefighters fight the wind while bringing down the American flag that was hanging from the fire truck’s ladder. The half-hour event provided time for Macomb Township residents to acknowledge the sacrifice made by veterans and the township’s first responders.
 

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Staff Sgt. Vincent J. Bell was killed Nov. 30, 2011, just 25 days into his fifth combat deployment to the Middle East.

His mother, Pamela Bell, described the 28-year-old as a natural leader in everything he did, from working at McDonald’s in high school to leading Marines on the battlefield.

“He was extremely patriotic in the sense that he just believed in doing the right thing for the right reason,” Pamela said. Patriotism led Vincent to reenlist despite the long, grueling deployments and his mother’s protests.

“I wanted him to get out,” Pamela said. But Vincent wanted to make the military his career. He volunteered for his last two tours in Iraq and for the deployment to Afghanistan, from which he would never return.

To remember deceased veterans like Vincent and to honor those still living, Macomb Community Foundation hosted its first annual Veterans Day Ceremony Nov. 9.

The ceremony in front of the town hall was simple — at most a half-hour and included a handful of speakers — yet it provided a chance for the community to acknowledge the sacrifices of its first responders and veterans. “It’s a place to honor their service,” said Charles Shaw, from the Macomb Community Foundation.

Chaplain Ron Drdul, a Vietnam veteran, said holidays and ceremonies like the one in Macomb are only the tip of what a country can do to honor veterans.

“No holiday in their honor can make up the hours lost, the innocence lost, the loves, limbs and lives lost,” Drdul said during the ceremony. “We cannot do enough. ‘Thank you’ is too easy and too slight a return.”

Township officials, deputies, firefighters, veterans and loved ones like Pamela were in attendance. All were silent as “Taps” concluded the ceremony.

Afterward, people walked around the memorial. Since its construction in 2010, the community foundation has been placing memorial bricks bearing the names of Macomb’s deceased veterans. There are names of residents from wars throughout the last 100 years. A soldier killed in Afghanistan borders one killed in World War II.

In the near future, Vincent’s name will appear on one of the bricks — a fitting memorial, Pamela thinks.

“I just live a few minutes from here, and I will be able to come here and spend time with his presence, knowing that this is what he fought for,” Pamela said, standing by the north end of the plaza where her son’s name will be.

There, it will stay long after she is gone. During future Veterans Day ceremonies, there are those who will walk around the plaza, gaze at the bricks and wonder who Staff Sgt. Vincent Bell was, and “who knows, may even look him up,” Pamela imagined.

And if they do, they’ll discover a Macomb Township man who, on the macro level, loved his country and, on the micro level, loved his fellow Marines.

“I asked, ‘Are you afraid?’” Pamela recalled asking Vincent in one of their last conversations. “He said, ‘No, I’m just concerned for my men.’”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.