Memorial Day speaker to focus on sacrifices

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 15, 2019

 Photo provided by the City of Troy

Photo provided by the City of Troy

U.S. Army Col. James E. Prescott, retired, will be the keynote speaker at a ceremony at Veterans Plaza this Memorial Day.

 Maj. Thomas P. Shields gives the keynote speech at the Troy Memorial Day ceremony held at Veterans Memorial Plaza in 2016.

Maj. Thomas P. Shields gives the keynote speech at the Troy Memorial Day ceremony held at Veterans Memorial Plaza in 2016.

File photo by Victoria Zegler

 Troy resident Dave Meinhard plays taps to honor the men and women who gave their lives for their country during the 2016 Memorial Day event.

Troy resident Dave Meinhard plays taps to honor the men and women who gave their lives for their country during the 2016 Memorial Day event.

File photo by Victoria Zegler

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TROY — The family of retired U.S. Army Col. James E. Prescott moved around a lot during his 30 years of active duty.

“It was difficult for my family, moving,” said Prescott, who will be the keynote speaker at the Troy Memorial Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Plaza. “I think they’re all better off for it.”

Prescott holds a Master of Science degree in education from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He received his commission in May 1972 upon completion of ROTC training at Central Michigan University.

Prescott served a third of his career overseas. In 1999, he was reassigned as the G1/director of personnel of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he retired in July 2002. He now lives in Troy with his wife, Leanne.

“It’s quite an honor,” he said of being asked to speak at the Troy Memorial Day ceremony.

He said he felt fortunate to be selected for advanced military training and for his promotions, which resulted in moving more often.

“I understand a lot of veterans attend the ceremony,” he said. “I’m quite confident they served with people who made the ultimate sacrifice. I’m sure this is quite personal for them.”

He said that while his main focus will be on those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, he also plans to talk about the men and women serving today, who he said are sometimes portrayed negatively in the news when they get out of the military.

“Men and women serving today experience extraordinary operations and tempo unlike any before — multiple deployments and separations from family,” he said. “They know the risks; they still volunteer. The military thrives because young men and women are willing to serve. They are good, all-around young people. It’s gotten a lot more selective.”

The one-hour Memorial Day event will include a performance by the Heritage Concert Band of Troy and the laying of a memorial wreath. The ceremony will conclude with the raising of the colors and a moment of silence and benediction.

Dave Meinhard, a trumpet player who has played taps at the ceremony for the past five years, said he gained the utmost respect for those who serve when he worked for a local TV news station and was embedded with soldiers serving at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

“Several members of the band are veterans,” he added. “They stand with pride when their service songs are played.”

The Memorial Day ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. May 27 at Veterans Memorial Plaza, in front of Troy City Hall, 500 W. Big Beaver Road.

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