Community honors fallen soldiers

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published May 27, 2015

 Tim Miller and Rob Bennett, of the Southfield Fire Department Honor Guard, present the colors May 22 at the annual Southfield Memorial Day service.

Tim Miller and Rob Bennett, of the Southfield Fire Department Honor Guard, present the colors May 22 at the annual Southfield Memorial Day service.

Photos by Deb Jacques


SOUTHFIELD — The scene at the city’s annual Memorial Day ceremony was nothing short of picturesque as the sun cascaded over a group of residents, veterans and city officials who congregated to remember the nation’s fallen soldiers.

At 9 a.m. May 22 on the front lawn of the Southfield Municipal Complex, 26000 Evergreen Road, attendees took an hour out of their day to celebrate Memorial Day — the federal holiday designed to remember the people who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces.

Mayor Donald Fracassi hosted the ceremony, which featured remarks from Brig. Gen. Leonard Isabelle Jr., of Southfield, who is the assistant adjutant general in the Michigan Air National Guard. Dan Brightwell, of the Southfield Veterans Commission, also said a few words, and the Rev. Cornelius Davis Jr., of Hope United Methodist Church, offered the invocation and benediction. The Southfield-Lathrup High School advanced choir performed several selections.

The colors of the American flag were presented by Brightwell and the Southfield Police and Fire departments, along with the Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness Department Honor Guard.

Davis offered a prayer for the fallen soldiers, as well as for current soldiers and veterans, and he prayed for peace.

“Let there be peace. Let there be hospitality. Let there be a oneness among us who have gone before, and honor us who are among us now,” Davis said.

Isabelle applauded the city for holding a ceremony, and thanked the crowd for attending.

“Obviously, Memorial Day is a very special day,” Isabelle said. “It’s a single day in which we remember the spirit of all those who died in service to our nation, and we remember and honor them. We also think about their families and friends, possibly people right here in the audience, and members of our community.”

Isabelle said he feared Memorial Day was becoming just another holiday off work and school, but since the events of 9/11, a new awareness of the military’s sacrifices has come to light.

“This heartfelt respect for our heroes transcends politics, cultural differences and religion,” Isabelle said.

Brightwell discussed the freedoms made possible by the nation’s fallen soldiers and asked that the audience remember throughout the year those who died.

“Remembering our fallen once a year is not enough,” Brightwell said. “We owe it to our heroes that died and the loved ones that they left behind to make sure that their sacrifices are remembered and that their service to this nation will always be remembered.”

Fracassi and members of the Michigan Veterans Foundation and the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan placed a wreath on the Veterans Memorial Garden in front of City Hall, followed by a moment of silence, a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.

World War II veteran Art Fishman, 88, of Oak Park, said he attended the ceremony to celebrate with friends.

“We all served in different times, but we served for a reason, because we meant what we did,” Fishman said.

DeBorah Holt-Foster, of Southfield, said she came to the ceremony to support the military.

“I have relatives who’ve served; I support the veterans, and we wouldn’t have the freedoms that we have right now if it wasn’t for them, and I appreciate them,” Holt-Foster said.