Township unveils Tomb of Unknown Soldier memorial

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 6, 2013

The approved monument for Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial will be unveiled Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Honoring the legacy of veterans and fallen soldiers, West Bloomfield and the Macon-Thomas Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen will unveil and dedicate a memorial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at the West Bloomfield Civic Center.

The ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. and will include patriotic performances by the West Bloomfield High School band, the laying of the wreath at the tomb and a brief overview on the definition of Veterans Day and the Tuskegee Airmen.

“The monument serves as a memorial to all the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice — their life — to the service of their country,” said William Burnett, veteran and West Bloomfield Tuskegee Airmen chapter president. “To have to have recognition for our veterans in West Bloomfield is a thing that should have been done a long time ago, I think. But it’s never too late to recognize our fallen heroes.”

The West Bloomfield Tuskegee Airmen chapter is chartered by the national organization and holds a mission to recognize and honor the pioneers who paved the way for the country, said Burnett. In addition, the nonprofit organization, which dates back to World War II, aids communities and introduces youth to a future in aviation.

Burnett reached out to Township Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste, who is also a member of the group, approximately a year ago with the inspiration for the memorial project. During the course of the year, the township and Tuskegee Airmen joined forces to pull together sponsors for the memorial. The monument itself was donated by Belfor Property Restoration, and Shenandoah Country Club contributed a bench for visitors. West Bloomfield Township provided the landscaping, and the development services director designed the teardrop-shaped concrete on which the monument will sit.

“I do believe this will be the only Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument in Oakland County, so Bill has mentioned to me that once the monument and bench are there, people will be there quite regularly, sitting on the bench or praying,” she said. “We find that this monument will be a peaceful place for people to come and remember a lot of our fallen heroes.”

Economou Ureste said that she comes from an Army family, with her brother being a graduate of the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point in New York. During his time at the academy, Economou Ureste’s brother was part of the barber shop quartet and traveled the world, performing.

During the dedication and unveiling, the West Bloomfield Police Department Honor Guard will remember those fallen, rendering a three-volley salute, which is performed at military and police funerals, said Detective Chuck Mendham, a member of the honor guard. Taps will be played following the salute.

The monument, Burnett said, “serves as a thank-you from West Bloomfield Township for those men and women who served and gave the ultimate sacrifice.”