Area gears up to honor fallen military

ALPENA – This weekend we remember and pay homage to those who died for our country. Events of remembrance will be held around the area.

The Alpena County Veterans Council Memorial Day program begins Saturday, with the placing of American flags on graves. Everyone is welcome to attend and help. The placing will start at 9 a.m. at the Evergreen Cemetery maintenance garage whether rain, sleet, snow or shine, so those who wish to help are encouraged to dress accordingly, and asked to bring a screwdriver, pliers or a tall bucket to carry flags in.

“The City of Alpena buys the flags for the graves,” VFW District 13 Commander Larry Marchlewski said. “There are about 4,200 flags that are used.”

The flag placing usually takes around three hours, and is part of the tradition of honoring those who lost their lives.

“We’re honoring our war dead,” Marchlewski said. “These are our heroes, the men that have been there and died for our freedom.”

Sunday there will be an 11 a.m. church service at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 2550 South First Avenue. Veterans will line up under the front arch at 10:45 a.m., and the service will be a traditional mass.

On Monday there will be a 9 a.m. memorial service at the Alpena County Courthouse War Memorial, with Mayor Matt Waligora, who served in the U.S. Navy, as the main speaker.

The annual Memorial Day Parade will form on Eighth Aveneu and Lockwood Street at 9:30 a.m. Floats are welcome and are asked to be kept with a Memorial Day theme. The parade will proceed down Ninth to Washington Avenue to Veterans Memorial Highway, stopping at the river to honor fallen sailors and Marines. The parade then will continue to Little Flanders Field at Evergreen Cemetery for a memorial service that will start at 11 a.m.

“We ask that flags be at half mast until noon on Memorial Day,” Marchlewski said. “We need to honor our war dead. They died so we have freedom. It’s just important to honor them, and this is the day that everyone should do it. Think about it, maybe say a prayer, but do something for it.”

The guest speaker for the Memorial Day ceremony will be Rep. Peter Pettalia and will include a rifle salute by the VFW 2496 Honor Guard.

“It’s important to get the community together to recognize those who have served and died for our freedom,” American Legion Post 65 Commander Wayne Trapp said. “Many people see the crosses and the wreaths and don’t know what they are for. This is a way to honor those who have given their lives. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.”

For more information about the Memorial Day programs, contact Marchlewski at 657-6473.

Presque Isle County

In Onaway, the parade starts at 10:50 a.m. at the Onaway VFW Post 5857, 3685 N. Veterans Dr. Continues to city courthouse lawn, with ceremony to start at 11 a.m. This year’s ceremony is dedicated to Vietnam War veterans, post Commander Cal McCaslin said.

In Rogers City the parade starts at 10 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 125 W. Ontario St. It continues to the Presque Isle County Courthouse, where there will be a brief ceremony at the memorials there. The parade continues to Memorial Park Cemetery, where a second ceremony will take place.

There will be two others at Mt. Calvary Cemetery, south of Rogers City on US-23, and the Peace Lutheran Church cemetery, on M-68 west of Rogers City, Rogers City Servicemen’s Club member Mike Peltz said.

Jordan Travis contriubted to this story.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.