Muskegon area residents will have two opportunities to commemorate America’s armed forces contributions during the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day on Monday, Nov. 11. Both ceremonies, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, are free and open to the public.
Causeway Veterans Memorial Park
The traditional ceremony will be held outdoors at the Causeway Veterans Memorial Park beginning at 11 a.m. The guest speaker will be Francis Gerrit Veldman, a WWII veteran and former commander of American Legion Post 9. The 98-year old received the Purple Heart while serving with the 70th Infantry Division, known as the “Trailblazers,” who spearheaded the Seventh United State Army’s drive into Germany.
Jason Whitman, commander of Muskegon County Council Veterans of Foreign Wars, will offer opening remarks. The posting of the colors and a 21-gun rifle salute will be conducted by the VFW Post 8846 Honor Guard. Mike Baauw, director of the Muskegon County Department of Veterans Affairs, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Bob Hall, chaplain of American Legion Post 9, will deliver the opening prayer.
The event includes patriotic music by the Reeths-Puffer Middle School band, under the direction of Rich Erne. Flo Predko will sing the National Anthem and God Bless America. The Colonial Dames and the Daughters of the American Revolution will present wreaths.
Muskegon Community College
The second ceremony begins at 2 p.m. in Muskegon Community College’s Bartels-Rode Gymnasium with reflections, tributes and performances of patriotic music and military branch anthems.
MCC Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. John Selmon will provide opening remarks. U.S. Army veteran Jerry Conrad will serve as the emcee. American Legion Posts 9 and 297 will post the colors.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem will be performed by the Grand Haven High School Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Melissa D. Meyers, and sung by MCC’s College Singers, under the direction of Nicholas Palmer. Rachel Stewart, MCC Alumni and Donor Relations Manager, will offer a reflection. The Grand Haven High School Chamber Orchestra will play “America the Beautiful.”
SPC Andrew Worcester, an MCC student who served as a U.S. Army medic in Afghanistan, will provide remarks. The College Singers will perform the respective branch anthems of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Delivering the keynote address will be Michigan Army National Guard Major Derik Van Baale, the State Behavioral Health Officer who has also worked for 17 years with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helping veterans with PTSD. Based in Grand Rapids, he is currently the Suicide Prevention Coordinator. In 1995, Van Baale enlisted in the U.S. Army and, in 2003, was deployed to Iraq as a Field Artillery Officer and was awarded the Combat Action Badge and the Bronze Star.
Following a moment of silence, a rifle squad from County Council VFW will provide a 21-gun salute to honor America’s fallen heroes. MCC student Aaron Roup will play Taps.
Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce communications specialist Justin Pelham, an MCC alumnus who, as an Army National Guard truck driver in Afghanistan, was seriously injured in 2006 by an improvised explosive device (IED), will acknowledge the special 100th anniversary commemorative gift that the college is presenting to veterans in attendance.
The College Singers will perform “God Bless America.” The American Legion Posts 9 and 27 will retire the colors.
Refreshments will be served in the gymnasium following the event. For more information, call the MCC Student Life Office at (231) 777-0216.