By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – A bell tolled Sunday, in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I.
As veterans, city officials, Historical Society members and other residents gathered outside of the Lincoln Park Historical Museum, somber words were spoken in reflection of a war meant to end all wars, which inevitably sowed the seeds of discontent for World War II.
During World War I, 20 million people died, 53,000 of whom were U.S. citizens.
Following an opening prayer by American Legion Post 67 Chaplain Tracy Kirkendall, Mayor Thomas Karnes spoke, extending grateful thanks for the residents who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
“Young men and women made the conscious decision to leave their homes and entered into the armed forces, represented our city in a time of war and a time of peace, and some made the ultimate sacrifice,” Karnes said. “We want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) said that each year when Americans celebrate Veterans Day, there are fewer World War II veterans left to recognize.
“I happen to be married to one of them, who was in a very sentimental mood,” Dingell said. “Friday when I was at the VA Hospital, a man said to me, ‘I served in the Vietnam War, and my country forgot me.’ The hurt was still there.
“I think on this Veterans Day it is really important for us to remember several things. We need to thank the men and women that have served us, and have fought to protect all that is unique and wonderful about being an American.”
Dingell spoke of the fundamental constitutional freedoms – religion, speech and the press.
“Freedom of the press is one of our most basic freedoms, and today too many people are trying to divide us with fear and hatred,” Dingell said. “I love our American flag and everything it stands for. We must never forget that. Always remember how lucky we are to live in America, and we must never forget our veterans.”
Dingell said veterans should never be homeless, and should have access to health care and jobs, and that communities should embrace and support them.
“No veteran should ever have to say, ‘My country forgot me. It didn’t care about me,’” Dingell said.
Wayne County Commissioner Ilona Varga (D-District 4), who mentioned that her father was a World War II veteran, presented a resolution to city officials from the County Commission.
Museum Curator Jeff Day said the truce was actually signed at 5 a.m., with the stipulation that the fighting would end at 11 a.m. He said in the next six hours, 3,000 soldiers died.
“We need to remember them, and we need to remember all of our veterans, and those that didn’t come back,” Day said. “That is why 11 a.m. is important to us. We still celebrate the veterans that came back, and we honor and remember those that we lost.”
Karnes and Dingell tolled the bell outside the museum, as a fire engine and an emergency medical services personnel drove by on a run with sirens at full volume. The bell was relocated from Goodell School, which was closed in 1971, and later demolished. In 1999, the bell was placed on the museum grounds, with a bell tower built from bricks reclaimed from former Lincoln Park schools.
Following the bell tolling, attendees were invited into the museum, where volunteer Jackie Clark read aloud letters from a World War I nurse who served near the front.
Day read “In Flanders Field,” one of the most widely quoted poems about war, written by Canadian physician John McRae, who served during the war, and died of pneumonia and cerebral meningitis while serving at a military hospital.
Participants Sherry Huntington and former City Councilwoman Virginia Mondon also read war remembrance selections aloud.
For more information about the Lincoln Park Historical Museum and upcoming programs, go to lphistorical.org.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])