Public invited to celebrate Warren’s USO ties

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published September 19, 2016

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WARREN — Everyone is invited to join members of the Warren Historical Commission as they celebrate the city’s World War II-era ties to the United Service Organizations with a commemorative plaque dedication at the Fitzgerald Recreation Center on Oct. 1.

“We are dedicating a plaque that’s going to be permanently affixed to the building to recognize it as a former USO building,” Historical Commission Chair Sue Keffer said.

The Fitzgerald facility, on Nine Mile east of Ryan, was one of three places in the Warren area used by the USO to host events for members of the armed forces and their families during and after the war.

Dolly Slicker, vice chair of the commission, said the structure is also believed to be one of the few remaining World War II-era buildings utilized by the USO.

“All the USOs in Warren were built either on city or school property,” Slicker said. “The (Fitzgerald) building was started in 1941. The dedication was Feb. 6, 1942. It was used from ’42 to Dec. 31, 1944, as a USO and recreation building. After that, they reverted to the schools and they continued to serve the community.”

Information compiled by Warren historians found that the Warren Township Defense Recreation Council was organized in September 1941. Later that year, the group became the Council of Social Agencies for Warren Township and Center Line, Mich.

The USO was founded in 1941 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide on-leave recreation for members of the growing U.S. armed forces.

Slicker said the Van Dyke USO building was near Lincoln High School. The Center Line USO facility, on Weingartz north of 10 Mile Road and west of Van Dyke, burned to a shell in April 1947 but was later reconstructed. It opened again in 1948 and continued to serve the community for years.

Events planned to begin at 2 p.m. on Oct. 1 include introductory remarks by Warren Mayor Jim Fouts and state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, followed by the plaque unveiling. There will be a presentation by the Blue Star Mothers and a “missing man table,” established in military dining facilities in remembrance of fallen and missing members of the armed forces. The presentation will be followed by dancing and music of the era from 3 to 5 p.m.

The Fitzgerald Recreation Center is located at 4355 E. Nine Mile Road.

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