Motor City Brass Band provides an encore
By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – The Dearborn Allied War Veterans and the mayors of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights honored veterans lost in service to their country during a May 30 tribute at Veterans Park.
rea World War II veterans Ed Gazell, Dave Dumas and Chris Kurbel were recognized as guests of honor.
Dearborn Heights Mayor and Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council Commander Bill Bazzi said that despite the adjustments needed to comply with COVID-19 protocols, he was grateful that it was possible to continue the Memorial Day tradition this year.
Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. spoke of Memorial Days past, and remembered his father, the late Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Sr., who was a World War II and Korean War veteran.
“This is great, and I am glad we are here,” he said. “I would like us to get back full into where we can have this for everybody, all the time. It is missed by everybody. I went to each one, with my family, and I loved it, and was part of it with Scouting and everything else.
“So, I’m saying, let’s all get together, and get back to what it really means, what we do for each other, how we look at things together and how we do good things for people.”
Following, Vietnam Veterans of America Post 267 posted the colors, 2019 Dearborn Veteran of the Year Tom Wilson led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Chaplain Frank Pelachio provided the invocation. Wilson and Gazell then placed a wreath at the memorial.
Bazzi said Memorial Day reminds one of the tremendous sacrifices made by the nation’s service members throughout the nation’s history.
“It’s a day for remembrance, and our focus is on our fallen heroes,” he said. “This ceremony is dedicated to them.”
Bazzi also recognized the veterans, reserve and active-duty military personnel present, and said the plaza was dedicated to them.
He said 346 luminaries were lit, for the men and one woman named on the memorial, along with a row of American flags flanking both sides of the plaza.
Bazzi mentioned local author Lisa Lark, who is researching Dearborn’s fallen soldiers, and recruiting the community to help honor each individually, whether with a lawn sign, social media post or both.
He said she is researching the one Dearborn soldier lost in World War I, as well as those who died in World War II and the Korean War. Lark did a similar project in the past, honoring the city’s 69 service members who died in the Vietnam War.
For more information about the Dearborn War Memorial Project, go to the city of Dearborn’s website, cityofdearborn.org.
“This initiative allows us the opportunity to see a face and learn more about the personal story behind their name,” Bazzi said. “Many of our fallen heroes were still very young, with what could have been a life of adventure ahead of them. Yet, they sacrificed their lives for ours.
“Although each one represents a loss, each one also symbolizes a point of light, and as we honor the memory of all of America’s fallen heroes, let us pledge that their sacrifice and valor will be honored and remembered.”
Following the remembrance, the Motor City Brass Band, emerging from quarantine for the first time since the pandemic began, performed a stirring, hour-long concert, with musician Paul Roach as the featured bugler.
They also performed Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.,” sung by John Martin; “Manhattan Beach March” by John Philip Sousa; “Gee, Officer Krupke” from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story;” and Bob Lowden’s “Armed Forces Salute.”
The North American premiere of Sandor Hendricks’ march, “Angels from the Sky,” which honors World War II Staff Sgt. Robert Godfrey of Dearborn, who is buried in an American military cemetery in the Netherlands, was also well-received.
The Motor City Brass Band is scheduled to play a 25th anniversary concert at 3 p.m. June 27 at Ford Field.