By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – City officials and veterans gathered on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, to officially recognize the renaming of the city library to Riverview Veterans Memorial Library in honor of those who served.
Library Director Kirk Borger said the renaming of the library had been a long time in coming.
“I have been here 17 years, and in the past four or five years I have put an emphasis on making the library not so much a veteran center but someplace that not just commemorates veterans – because we have that in the memorial outside – but I wanted to make what we do at the library something that we can do to tie in veterans with.”
Borger said the library currently has a permanent memorial inside the library that honors Riverview’s fallen servicemen, and there is a link on the library website, riverviewpubliclibrary.com, called the Riverview Veterans Memorial, that has the oral history of 26 of the city’s veterans.
“I still need veterans to interview,” Borger said. “To continue that project, to continue our commitment to veterans in the city, if you know of any veterans who would like to tell their story, please let me know.”
Borger can be reached at 734-283-1250 or at [email protected]
Mayor Andrew Swift said the library has done an outstanding job of recognizing veterans.
“Not just inside here, but we have the memorial out back, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the other side of the big memorial, we have the Nike missile, and now today, with the renaming of the library, it is the culmination of everything coming together,” he said.
The Nike anti-aircraft missiles were part a 1953 U.S. Army project that housed missile silos during the Cold War in Riverview, Grosse Ile Township and Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus.
Swift also said that this past summer Library Drive was renamed Veterans Memorial Drive.
“This is a center where I am quite proud of Riverview recognizing the veterans,” Swift said. “This place where they can come will be recognized and hopefully the rest of the community will appreciate it as us on the city council do.”
Swift acknowledged the presence of state Rep. Cara Clemente (D-Lincoln Park); Ron Hinrichs, president of the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce; and Mike Klotz, representing U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn).
Swift said Councilman Elmer Trombley was the major proponent of the library renaming.
“We appreciate that support, and we also appreciate the support of the rest of the community to do things like this,” Swift said. “Sometimes there are significant costs involved, but we do what it takes to recognize those who gave all.”
Trombley said the first thing he wanted to do on Veterans Day was to thank all the men and women who are in the service or who have served.
“It’s their day, and I am a very patriotic guy,” he said. “I just want to say Happy Veterans Memorial Day.”
Trombley said when he was a commander at Riverview’s VFW Post 389 in the 1970s, he presided over several Memorial Day services at Ferndale Cemetery, where there was a VFW monument.
“I started to think – we’ve got a park here at Patriot’s Park,” he said. “We’ve got a library. Wouldn’t a veteran’s memorial look beautiful in the back of the library and the front of that pond?”
Trombley said he got some people together, including some from the city and American Legion Post 389, and they went to work.
“All I asked for was $25,000 to put up a memorial out there,” Trombley said. “And it seemed the harder I worked, the more they kept upping the price, to $50,000, to $75,000, to $90,000, to $120,000 and then to $140,000.
“And I said, ‘They can go as high as they want.’ So my son Jim, who was a councilman, I got him all fired up and a whole bunch of other people – my wife, my whole family – started a golf outing.”
Trombley said after 14 or more years, the group finally reached their financial goal for the memorial, and they have set aside money for six $500 scholarships to Riverview Community High School.
He said his next goal was to rename the library in honor of the veterans.
“Here I go again with another fight, at least 14 years,” he said. “And finally, a friend of mine, who is the president of the library commission, Don Ginestet, said, ‘Elmer, I think I got your wish.’”
Trombley thanked Library Commissioners Heather Dunlop, Terri Ford, Gary Apkarian, Sandra Miller and Ginestet.
He said Gerald Maseley suggested they try to get the road leading up to the library and memorial renamed, which Trombley suggested he champion.
“Then I told him, ‘Hey, Jerry. You know what? We are going to name this Riverview Veterans Memorial Library. You just opened the door big time for me,’” Trombley said. “And I went after it, and we finally got it.”
Trombley thanked the residents of Riverview for their support, the mayor and council, and acknowledged the support of his late wife, Nancy.
“The citizens of Riverview made my dream come true,” Trombley said. “I have been involved with a lot of things, but this one has really done it.
“So now we have the Riverview Veterans Memorial Library, and I guess it’s time to cut the ribbon.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])