Ceremony leaders salute the flag May 24 during Southfield and Lathrup Village’s Memorial Day ceremony at the Southfield Municipal Complex.

Ceremony leaders salute the flag May 24 during Southfield and Lathrup Village’s Memorial Day ceremony at the Southfield Municipal Complex.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Southfield, Lathrup Village gather to hear from veterans on Memorial Day

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published May 29, 2019

 Veterans Service Award recipient Felix Seldon, who founded the Southfield Veterans Commiss-ion, speaks at the event.

Veterans Service Award recipient Felix Seldon, who founded the Southfield Veterans Commiss-ion, speaks at the event.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

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SOUTHFIELD/LATHRUP VILLAGE — It’s a long weekend filled with barbecues, parades and road trips, but this year, attendees of Southfield and Lathrup Village’s Memorial Day ceremony were asked to remember the true meaning of the holiday.

Southfield and Lathrup Village residents, local city officials and veterans gathered at 9 a.m. May 24 at City Hall to commemorate Memorial Day — the federal holiday designed to remember the people who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces.

Colleen Bassett paid tribute to her father, Capt. David Cleary, who served from 1941 to 1945 in the U.S. Army on Biak Island in New Guinea.

Bassett read a letter that Cleary wrote to her mother describing both the shock of war and the beauty of the island.

“He writes, ‘Dearest Rosemary, when I think of our future life together, I can forget where I am — all the ugliness and unpleasant sights and smells. Nights like this one make those thoughts more real. The moonlight shows only the cleaner things, while the hard sunlight bears the ugly,’” Bassett read.

Southfield City Council President Lloyd Crews hosted the ceremony, which featured remarks from Gerald Houston, of the Southfield Veterans Commission; the presentation of excellence and service awards from the Southfield Veterans Commission; and veteran tributes.

“I just want to thank you for being here today. I’m deeply honored to stand with you to commemorate the sacrifices of those military men and women who have laid down their lives in service to this nation,” Houston said. “I would like to take a moment to acknowledge anyone who has lost a loved one in the line of duty to this country. It doesn’t matter, really, how much time has passed. No words of condolence can ever begin to adequately console a survivor’s grief.”

In addition to several Southfield and Lathrup Village elected officials, Madison Heights Mayor Brian Hartwell, Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner and Oakland County Commissioner Nancy Quarles attended.

The colors of the American flag were presented by the Southfield Police and Fire departments. The Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology choir sang “All My Trials,” and Leslie Nelson Ferguson performed an original song in tribute to the men and women who have served.

Rabbi Aaron Starr, of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, offered the invocation, praying for peace.

“We gather together this Memorial Day in tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We pray that you, our creator, remember their worthy and righteous deeds and they find perfect peace in your eternal embrace. Let your presence be felt in their families and us all,” Starr said.

Paul Roache, from Bugles Across America, played “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

A posthumous Veterans Award of Excellence was awarded to Tim Wirkus, whose family accepted the award on his behalf.

A Veterans Service Award was offered to Felix Seldon, who founded the Southfield Veterans Commission. Seldon encouraged the people in the crowd to join the commission.

Houston and Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett presented tributes to veterans, whose photos, names, ranks and military branches were displayed on a screen.

“As I was trying to prepare to be here today, I was reminded about what Memorial Day really is. I just got an email from work about the long weekend, and it made me stop. … It’s not about just going to have picnics. It’s not about just having the day off. It’s not about just having a long weekend,” Garrett said. “It’s about the fact that there are people in this room and people that have passed that allows us to enjoy this day off.”

Crews and members of the Michigan Veterans Foundation placed a wreath at the Veterans Memorial Monument outside City Hall, followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps by Roache.

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