Clinton Macomb Public Library’s “Community Salute” includes several momentos, like a flag that was flown from an unmanned aerial vehicle, from Mal Forys, seen here. Forys served in the military from 1969 to 2004.

Clinton Macomb Public Library’s “Community Salute” includes several momentos, like a flag that was flown from an unmanned aerial vehicle, from Mal Forys, seen here. Forys served in the military from 1969 to 2004.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Clinton Township library hosts community salute

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published November 24, 2021

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP —  Rather than a single-day event, a local library decided to take an entire month to honor veterans.

Running through Dec. 1, the Clinton-Macomb Public Library’s “Community Salute” is a display of photos and items from veterans and their family members, shown in the cases at the library. It opened to the public Nov. 1.

The display is on the first floor of the library system’s Main Branch, on Romeo Plank Road in Clinton Township. Folks were invited to bring in artifacts and photos from a loved one, or themselves, who served in the military.   

Meghan Mott, CMPL outreach librarian, said about 17 items are part of the collection.

On Nov. 7 at the library, a reception was hosted for veterans and community members to meet up.

The display included a few mementos, like a flag that was flown from an unmanned aerial vehicle, from Mal Forys, who attended the reception.

Forys, of Macomb Township, is a Vietnam War veteran. He was in the military from 1969 to 2004.

“Besides a civilian job, being in the military was my second career,” he said. “At times, it became more rewarding than a civilian career.”

Forys considers going to Kuwait and Iraq from September 2002 to January 2003 as one of his major accomplishments. As a staff sergeant, he was part of the 127th Wing based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township.

“We were the security forces guarding that and ground-based radar,” he said. “They offered us to get a flag flown. The flag was flown over Iraq and Kuwait.

He was drafted into the Army, got out of the Army, then enlisted in the Air National Guard before switching between that and the Army National Guard until he retired in 2004.

Forys, the son of an Army corporal from World War II, said the military instilled self-discipline and responsibility to become an adult.

“They owe them everything on a day-to-day basis of what they can do,” he said when asked what the U.S. owes its veterans. “If we were a communist or third-world country, they wouldn’t care about that. We can do pretty much whatever you want as long as it’s moral or legal. You have all of the rights that were won by veterans.”   

He noted that his aim in remaining in the military for decades was to teach younger people all that he had learned throughout the years.

“For my last two years, I was an assistant training instructor,” Forys said. “You should pass your knowledge along. If I see someone who needs help, I feel it’s my obligation to assist people, especially the younger generation.”

Joyce Gerlach brought in some items from her uncle, Henry Lipski. He was in his late 20s when he entered the service.

One item Gerlach had was a letter written by Lipski to his mother. It mentioned what he was up to at the time in France. Lipski was killed in action Jan. 18, 1945, in Luxembourg.

“The German soldiers dressed in American uniforms and were walking down the street,” Gerlach said. “My uncle yelled out to get off the street, and they turned around and shot him.”

Mott said in the first week the display was up, folks really enjoyed viewing the display and being sparked with memories.

“I think people find it moving, and what they are moved by is you and your service and your family’s stories,” she said.

Mott added that, while the library wants to be a community resource, what the community can bring to the library is also important.

“We want to provide a forum for people to share their own stories,” she said.

Kate Brown, adult non-fiction librarian, said the veteran community is a very cohesive one.

“It brings people in and keeps history alive,” she said. “It’s living history and educational.”

Brown — who herself is a veteran, serving in the Marines 1979-1981 — said being in the military was a good experience for her.

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