Local Scout groups show their patriotic pride during the Memorial Day parade in downtown Royal Oak last year.

Local Scout groups show their patriotic pride during the Memorial Day parade in downtown Royal Oak last year.

File photo by Donna Dalziel


Royal Oak to host Memorial Day parade, ceremony

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published May 21, 2019

 Emma Fairless, 9, of Royal Oak, waves an American flag during the Memorial Day  parade in downtown Royal Oak last year. The parade will take place at 9 a.m. Monday, May 27, this year.

Emma Fairless, 9, of Royal Oak, waves an American flag during the Memorial Day parade in downtown Royal Oak last year. The parade will take place at 9 a.m. Monday, May 27, this year.

File photo by Donna Dalziel

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ROYAL OAK — On May 27, Royal Oak will continue its decades-old tradition of a Memorial Day parade and ceremony to remember those who died protecting the country.

The parade will kick off at 9 a.m., followed immediately by the ceremony at 10 a.m. The parade will follow a modified route this year due to downtown construction.

The new route will begin at Main Street and Lincoln Avenue, travel up Main Street, and turn right onto Third Street. Then, visitors are invited to walk directly to the Royal Oak war memorial, across from the Royal Oak Public Library, for the ceremony.

More than 50 groups and organizations will march in the parade. Veterans groups, including the Royal Canadian Legion, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, will kick off the parade, followed by this year’s grand marshal, Fox 2 Chief Meteorologist Rich Luterman, who served in the U.S. Air Force.

Other groups will include local dignitaries, the high school and middle school bands, drummers and pipers, an Elvis impersonator, Scout groups, Royal Oak and Oakland County first responders, Royal Oak Animal Shelter volunteers walking shelter dogs, Arabian horses and 93-year-old World War II veteran John Guirey.

“He spent his 19th birthday on a beach in Normandy,” said David London, chair of the Royal Oak Veterans Events Committee. “Oak Ridge Elementary service squad and student senate will also be marching with individual names from the war memorial — actual local soldiers.”

This year, the Rev. Carrie Orlando, of First Congregational Church of Royal Oak, will give the invocation, and Prisoner of War Committee of Michigan President Debbie McClain will be the speaker at the ceremony. The Royal Oak High School band will play several national anthems, and the ceremony will conclude with the laying of wreaths, a traditional 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.

“One of the things I’ve tried to bring to the table this year is, we talk about Memorial Day quite a bit, about those who have given their lives. We often forget about those who didn’t give them voluntarily — POWs, MIAs, people who were captured or went missing — so we’re bringing that to the forefront as well,” London said.

McClain, who grew up in Royal Oak and now lives in Warren, said her message will focus on the importance of never forgetting the service members who died, were captured or went missing.

“There are over 80,000 (soldiers) from all of our wars that have never come home,” she said. “The bracelet I wear is from a missing Royal Oak man. His family is very near and dear to my heart.”

Her uncle went MIA in Vietnam Oct. 8, 1967, which prompted her involvement in the POW Committee of Michigan. Almost exactly 40 years later, his family buried him at home Oct. 9, 2007.

“Just because I have an answer doesn’t mean all have answers. We are working to bring them back,” McClain said. “As long as you speak their name, they will never be forgotten.”

London recommended that attendees park in the Center Street parking garage or the Superior Fish parking lot. A shuttle will transport people from both locations, he said.

The Royal Oak Historical Society will hold its 22nd annual Memorial Day pancake breakfast fundraiser at the Royal Oak Farmers Market from 7 a.m. to noon, and attendees are invited to stop by before the parade or after the ceremony. The cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children 10 and younger.

For more information, call Royal Oak City Hall at (248) 246-3000.

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