100-year-old WWII veteran recognized
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – With mild weather, blue skies and dozens of U.S. flags adorning the grounds of the Lincoln Park Historical Museum, residents gathered for the city’s annual Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11.
Chuck Persinger, president of the Lincoln Park Exchange Club, made sure the grounds were decorated with 50 large American flags, while veterans from the Downriver Marine Corps League Detachment No. 153 participated in the event.
In addition, Lincoln Park High School Agriscience students completed the placement of the latest commemorative brick pavers at the Memorial Plaza southeast of the museum prior to Veterans Day.
Former City Councilwoman and Historical Society member Virginia Mondon led the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by an invocation by the Rev. Paula Miller of St. Michael Episcopal Church of Lincoln Park.
Speakers included Lincoln Park Mayor Thomas Karnes, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12th District), state Rep. Cara Clemente (D-14th District), and Lincoln Park Historical Museum Curator Jeff Day.
World War II Marine veteran Edward Gazel, 100, a 69-year resident Lincoln Park, was warmly recognized by those in attendance.
Dingell said Veterans Day is one of the most important days of the year to her and it reminds her of her husband, the late John Dingell Jr.
“He had many titles, but the title that meant the most to him, that he held to his heart, and shaped his life, was that of being veteran,” she said. “I probably didn’t appreciate him on Veterans Day as much as I did until I no longer had him.”
Dingell said that one of the last things he said to her was to urge her to “take care of his veterans,” and she said she tries hard to do that.
On this first Veterans Day without former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, and who died Oct. 18, she urged people to practice acts of kindness in his memory.
Dingell said we have a moral obligation to ensure that the country’s veterans have access to health care, and that none are homeless.
“So many are still suffering from the traumatic stress of what they saw, and where they served,” she said. “And, you know, I’m very honest to say we treated the Vietnam vets like sh–. And, I shouldn’t say it, but I’m getting more honest in my – I’m not old – like you guys, I’m seasoned.”
Dingell said we need to be there for veterans.
“We also need that little act of kindness that can make all the difference in somebody’s day,” she said. “On this Veterans Day I want to thank all of you who knew what that flag stood for, and that you fought to keep all of us free, and we cannot take those freedoms for granted anymore, either.”
Clemente also thanked the veterans for their sacrifice, and urged them to share their experiences with younger generations.
“You need to start talking about this,” she said. “I was an educator, and I need to continue educating our youth about when these individuals go and serve for us, what it means, and how difficult it is.”
At the end of the event, those present were given an opportunity to ring the bell in honor of the veterans in their lives, announcing their names if they so wished.