Communities remember fallen military men and women

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published May 23, 2016


The public is invited to gather and show respect for fallen military men and women at the Royal Oak Memorial Day Parade.

The parade will begin at 9 a.m. May 30 in downtown Royal Oak. The route will travel from South Main Street and Harrison, head north to Second Street, then east to the Veterans Memorial Plaza, where the annual memorial service will be held. A shuttle service will be available in front of City Hall for those in the parade. The shuttle will take participants to the start of the parade.

‘Royal Oak Memorial Day Parade Committee President Carol Hennessey said it’s a serious parade where veterans will be marching, and some will be in cars. No candy will be thrown during this respectful, reserved event.

“The veterans are the stars of the event,” she said.

Hennessey said about 40 groups were registered to march as of late last week, which was approaching the 60-group average. She said that anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 people will line the streets for the event.

New additions to this year’s parade will include a drum band from Detroit, the Avengers Mentoring Drumline and the ROTC drill team.

Returning favorites will include families of veterans, the Royal Oak High School band and Scout groups.

Event organizers said children will once again be encouraged to decorate their bikes and ride in the parade with a veteran or family member, and families and individuals who have lost loved ones are invited to march while carrying their folded honor flags.

Hennessey said she likes to see children involved in the parade.

“We need to teach our youth about what our veterans did for us so we may have what we have today,” she said. “These men and women gave their lives for us; we need to thank them.”

Hennessey said the last day to register a group or organization in the parade is May 25. Check-in will take place at 8 a.m. in the empty field at the northeast corner of Interstate 696 and Main Street.

The Royal Oak Memorial Society Memorial Day service will begin immediately following the parade, at about 10:15 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Plaza, outside of the library’s front entrance.

Hennessey said Royal Oak Police Department personnel will perform the flag folding, and the service will include the ROTC drill team, the Royal Oak High School band, and lifelong Royal Oak residents Harry Cavanaugh and David Shepler, who served in World War II and Iraq, respectively. Cavanaugh and Shepler also served as parade grand marshals.

Hennessey said volunteers are still needed to carry the Royal Oak Memorial Day Parade Committee’s large American flag. She said about 40 volunteers are needed for the task and anyone interested may call (248) 543-8420.

Volunteers are also needed to help the committee place flags next to veterans’ graves from 10 a.m. to noon May 28 at Oakview Cemetery, 1032 N. Main St. Groups are welcome for both opportunities.

The Royal Oak Historical Society will hold its annual Memorial Day pancake breakfast from 7 a.m. to noon at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, 316 E. 11 Mile Road.

Children are invited to the Bike Decoration Day event 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 29, in the Kinsey-Garret Funeral Home parking lot, 420 S. Lafayette Ave. Children may come and decorate their bikes for the parade. Decorations will be provided at no charge to families.

Once their bikes are decorated, the kids will be all set to ride their bikes in the parade. Anyone interested in participating should line up at about 8 a.m. in the check-in lot the day of the parade. Helmets are recommended, and parents are welcome to accompany their children along the route.

Trophies will be awarded for the best decorated bikes, and kids will receive a dog tag for participating.

The Clawson American Legion will host a Memorial Day service at 10 a.m. May 30 at the gazebo on the front lawn of the Blair Memorial Library, 416 N. Main St.

Although participants no longer march from the post office to the gazebo, the approximately 30-minute service is rich in tradition.

The service will include the raising of the flag by local Scouts, a special invocation, a speech by Mayor Pro Tem Howie Airriess and the playing of taps by a bugler from Clawson High School. Chairs will be set up at the gazebo.

“A value in Clawson is to honor and remember the sacrifices our men and women in the military made for our country and our way of life,” said Mayor Penny Luebs. “We have a memorial wall in Clawson to commemorate the men and women who lived in Clawson and died in service.”

Luebs said Memorial Day is a time for parents, siblings and neighbors to remember and reflect on the lives of those who died and our American history.