While Memorial Day serves as a much-need vacation day for many Central Michigan University students, faculty and staff, Mount Pleasant’s annual Memorial Day parade aims to remind its residents of the true meaning behind the national holiday: Honoring the sacrifice made by our military veterans.
“It’s about showing (Mount Pleasant) how we honor our soldiers,” said Luella Demski, president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3033. “We’re showing them how we honor our fallen soldiers, and how they fought for our freedom. We’re trying to give back by honoring them.”
This year, Demski, who has been a member of the post for more than 50 years, will act as the parade’s keynote speaker.
Monday’s parade will also mark the third time that Demski has spoken to the parade crowd about the country’s obligation to remember those who have fought and served domestically or abroad.
For those that know Demski, the Post 3033 mainstay tells like it is when it comes to honoring Mount Pleasant’s veterans.
“The one thing that bugs me is when people don’t take their hats off when the flags go by. And when people don’t salute when the flag goes by,” Demski told Central Michigan Life. “If you’ve got a hat on, get your hat off.” Demski’s became heavily involved in the local VFW post through her husband, a veteran of World War II.
Demski’s husband was stationed in Japan when the first of two atomic bombs were dropped on the country. His job was in mortuary affairs, meaning his task was to drive a truck that collected and transported dead soldiers.
“He drove the truck around while they were identifying the (bodies)” she said. “It wasn’t the actual fighting, but it wasn’t a nice job.”
To honor those like Demski’s husband, the parade will include a few moments of full military salutes and haunting, reflective silence.
The parade will begin on Monday morning from 10 a.m. and will continue until 11 a.m. Winding throughout the streets of Mount Pleasant, the parade will begin at the North Arnold and East Broadway streets intersection. Traveling west before it makes its first stop at the World War I and II memorials on Kinney Street, the parade will also stop at the Korean Memorial at the Town Center, the Civil War Memorial at Riverside Cemetery and the Vietnam Memorial at Island Park, according to Michelle Sponseller, the city’s downtown development director.
After the parade, citizens are invited to visit Post 3033, located at 4841 E. Pickard St.
Among the groups marching in the parade are the Honor Guard, the American Legion, the Ladies Auxiliary, the Mount Pleasant sea cadets, the Mount Pleasant High School band, a fire truck and some motorcycle policemen.
William Paine, a 47-year-old Mount Pleasant resident and 29-year military policeman in the National Guard, will be helping out with the parade. Paine has also been a member of VFW for the last 10 years.
“This is my third commandership, the second in a row,” Paine said. “I’m a district, which is a next level up from junior commander. This year, our post made all-state commander. So I’ve had a big year this year.”