Flags at federal buildings and national monuments are flying at half-staff across the U.S. this entire holiday weekend to honor the COVID-19 victims, as ordered by the President. While that is both sad and admirable, I hope that Memorial Day Monday will still be reserved to honor our war dead, while remembering the song lyrics “all gave some, some gave all.”
Mindful of the solemnness of this annual holiday, I took a short trek to nearby Memorial Park to capture a few images of Memorial Day 2020.
Memorial Park is split into two sections; one part of the Park is reserved for playground activities only. Across the street, the other portion contains the 65-year-old Bandshell, which is the site of free Summertime concerts and occasional movie nights, plus it is a hoppin’ place during Cruisin’ Downriver and Art in the Park. A memorial pavilion and large flower garden are also in this portion of Memorial Park – this side has remained open throughout the pandemic.
It was no surprise, that due to COVID-19 health concerns, our City’s annual Memorial Day Parade was cancelled. It was not the first time it was cancelled. During a tough time for our City when we were in receivership (July 2014 to December 2015), we lost many amenities, among them the Memorial Day Parade. However, even before the City was solvent again, crowdfunding ventures helped revive this annual tradition and keep the parade afloat (or many floats if you’ll pardon that pun).
There has always been a lot of pomp and circumstance, ranging from fun to sad, that mark this event. First, it is the typical, parade-type atmosphere that one would find in any hometown locale. We have those fez-wearing Shriners with their miniature cars or motorcycles, clowns, marching bands, the afore-mentioned floats and even the likenesses of President Abe Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln walking the parade route and proudly representing the City of Lincoln Park, amid the click of camera shutters by both casual onlookers and professional photographers.
But then the mood suddenly shifts to somber when the culmination of the event is the gathering at the Memorial Park Pavilion. Here heads are bowed, prayers are said, a shotgun salute is heard, then “Taps” is played on a bugle while wreaths are placed to commemorate those Lincoln Park servicemen lost in the WWI, WWII, Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Is there anything sadder than hearing “Taps” whether you personally lost someone in a war or not? The sad strains will bring a tear to your eye … it does to mine anyway.
So, the Memorial Day Parade was paused for 2020, but hopefully, just like other traditions, it will return in 2021.
Flags to honor our war dead.
The Exchange Club of Michigan didn’t disappoint and had their usual display of 50 or so American flags flapping in the breeze in and around the Memorial Pavilion.
While this an impressive display, in the past, our City has been fortunate to host a “Field of Honor Flags” display through the Healing Field Organization, where individual flags on eight-foot poles are placed throughout the Park to honor every Lincoln Park veteran who was a wartime casualty. Each military person’s name, rank, birth/death date and place of death is noted on a tag that accompanies their flag. It was a spectacular sight to see.
We have the permanent stone memorial to honor all the dead serviceman from our City. This is from a previous year’s ceremony.
The City also honors 24-year-old Sergeant Craig S. Frank, a member of the Army National Guard who died on July 17, 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, from injuries sustained when a rocket-propelled grenade struck him from behind. Sergeant Frank’s tribute is a concrete pillar where a likeness of his boots, firearm and helmet have been cast in bronze atop the pillar.
After taking pictures at the Pavilion area, I meandered over to check out the Gardens. Young volunteers from the Lincoln Park Garden Club have planted and maintain perennials here and are hopeful the milkweed planted last year will be enough to classify this area as a Monarch Waystation. I visited several times last year and while I saw no Monarchs, I saw other butterflies and bees and a beautiful collection of blooms. The garden area was sparse now, but I’ll be back to see the irises, lilies and roses which were plentiful last year.
As I walked around the grounds and gardens, camera in hand, I decided this pictorial might represent those who have fallen and their loved ones left behind. Maybe you will agree?
Honoring those who gave all and the ones they left behind with flowers.
Our hearts bleed for those who lost their lives in the ravages of war – may we never forget them.
Those brave men and women arrived at the combat zone, fresh-faced newbies, with platoon leaders who took them under their wing as best they could.
All too soon they were thrust into a hell; some lost limbs, or were traumatized by comrades cut down in unspeakable scenes.
Some fallen heroes were struck down before they had even had a chance to enjoy their lives.
War-torn families, severed from loved ones, were left behind in the blurry aftermath of booby traps, bullets or RPGs.
But the brave souls who returned still stand tall at military events everywhere on this Memorial Day weekend.
They were/are proud to serve their country, no matter their age.
Very few of those grizzled military men and women remain, but they remember their fallen or wounded comrades and life on the battlefield, while tears slowly roll down their cheeks. Life was never the same post-war; they will never forget and can only speak about it to others who witnessed the same images.
My friend Jack was a career Marine and is proud of his children and grandchildren who followed in his footsteps in the USMC. Jack circulated this video by e-mail and though I have never lost a loved due to war, the images sure are moving. Click here to view it.