The 22nd annual Stars and Stripes Forever Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9 at the Costick Activities Center in Farmington Hills brought out veterans and their families to honor them with featured speakers and more.

The 22nd annual Stars and Stripes Forever Veterans Day celebration Nov. 9 at the Costick Activities Center in Farmington Hills brought out veterans and their families to honor them with featured speakers and more.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Annual Veterans Day celebration highlights bravery

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published November 12, 2018

 Veteran Richard Smith was an Army specialist during the Vietnam War.

Veteran Richard Smith was an Army specialist during the Vietnam War.

Photo by Deb Jacques

FARMINGTON HILLS — Commerce Township resident William Lapham, 71, came back home nearly 50 years ago.

Lapham and his brothers, who all served in the military, were drafted from Farmington — at various times — for the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1969.

“And we all made it back,” he said.

Lapham is one of 10 brothers, and his oldest brother was drafted in the Army between 1964 and 1965.

When he came back home, another brother was drafted. When that brother came home, the cycle continued.

“What my mom went through,” he said, trailing off to talk about his brothers, and himself leaving and coming back from the war.

But he said that “it felt fantastic” to come home and greet his wife at the airport with his baby in 1969.

What also felt good for Lapham was to be honored and recognized for his service, because it wasn’t always easy during the transitional time for his family.

Lapham and countless other veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and beyond were recognized Nov. 9 at the 22nd annual Stars and Stripes Forever event put on by the Farmington Hills Center for Active Adults.

The event featured an honor guard, a keynote speaker, a veterans roll call and more.

Keynote speaker Lindell Holm, director of the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, thanked the veterans for their service.

“You and your service has an impact, had an impact, that continues on today,” he said, adding that people are able to exercise their freedoms today because of that. “Take pride in your service, in what you contributed.”

Holm added that he retired from the Marine Corps five years ago and has since found a new role with the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund.

He said the trust fund was initially established to financially assist WWII veterans, but it has since been expanded to all wartime veterans to help them in unforeseen financial emergencies.

Holm said assistance can be provided to veterans in all of the state’s 83 counties, per an application review. The number to call is (800) 642-4838.

“There is definitely a need, and (this) agency is very in tune to that particular need,” he said.

A recitation of veterans’ names, a special luncheon, raffles, prizes and entertainment by Matthew Ball, “The Boogie Woogie Kid,” were also on tap.

Farmington Hills Mayor Ken Massey said that the snowy weather that day did not “chill the enthusiasm” of the event.

“It is awesome that we get to do this every year,” he said. “(I am) proud of all of our citizens who live here in our community in Farmington Hills and in Farmington.”

Massey said that there are over 20 million veterans in the country today, and nearly half are over the age of 65.

“There are many young veterans and people who are in harm’s way at this time — an entire new generation fighting for our freedoms,” he said, adding that veterans come from all walks of life. “Thank you for your service; we value you.”

Farmington Mayor Steve Schneemann said during the event that the seemingly regular activities in life — voting, going to church, choosing a college — are ones in his personal life, and family life, that he knows are a privilege.

“They are not common in many places of the world — we enjoy tremendous freedoms in this country because of the hard work (and) dedication of men and women in uniform who protect (us).”

Marsha Koet, Farmington Hills Special Services’ senior services supervisor, said during the event that she looks forward to it every year the most.

“Honoring you, the veterans, thank you for all your service — this couldn’t be a more wonderful way to celebrate your service,” she said.

Many veterans spoke about their service and how it impacted them.

Veteran Richard Smith, who served in Vietnam, spoke after his name was called, along with other veterans, during the event.

“Glad I made it through. Thank you everyone for having me here,” he said.

Farmington Hills Special Services’ Adults 50 & Better sponsors various programs and activities. Advance registration is required for all programs. To register for events or to receive more information, call (248) 473-1830.