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St. Clair Shores

November 15, 2013

Veterans celebrated, remembered at VFW ceremony

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

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Veterans celebrated, remembered at VFW ceremony
Members of the VFW Bruce Post 1146 Honor Guard participate in a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11 at the Post.

ST. CLAIR SHORES — First celebrated to remember the end of World War I, the importance of honoring and remembering veterans as a nation is something that has not been forgotten since.

“I feel we should keep the honor going,” said Tom Fitzpatrick, of St. Clair Shores, an 84-year-old veteran of the Korean War, where he was a corporal in the 25th infantry of the Army for two years.

Veterans Day, officially established in 1926, now serves to honor those who have served in the U.S. armed forces. This Nov. 11, the VFW Bruce Post 1146 honored veterans past and present with a ceremony that included songs, prayers and a 21-gun salute.

“It was a good experience,” Fitzpatrick said of his military life. “I was drafted into the Army, (and) everything seemed to go wrong.”

His friends, he explained, were sent to locales in Europe upon being drafted, whereas he was sent to Korea. Once there, he said he was told to avoid being assigned to a certain unit. Fitzpatrick ended up attached to that unit and was sent to Mung Dung Ni Valley, which was nicknamed “heartbreak ridge.”

Since then, he said he’s grateful for remembrances such as the Veterans Day ceremony at the VFW Bruce Post 1146 because those who served in World War II and Korea are already becoming a minority.

“It’s good to keep the tradition going,” he said.

VFW Bruce Post 1146 Commander Tim Litz said they wanted to honor each and every person who has served in uniform this Veterans Day.

“Their service should make every single American feel a deep sense of pride,” he said. “Your life today would be vastly different without their honor and sacrifice.”

He also pointed out that thousands of the country’s “best and brightest” are currently still deployed all over the world in the “longest sustained war in our history.”

“We are truly privileged to have such great heroes among us,” he said.

Ninety-year-old Jack Warner, of St. Clair Shores, was an aviation machinist 2nd class in the U.S. Navy during World War II. The experience, he said, changed him.

“I became more of a gentleman; I learned how to take care of myself,” he said.

He’s one of the last soldiers left of that era, though.

“Most of them I know, they’re all dead,” he said. “The only friends I’ve really got now (are) all the veterans here at the Post.”

One of those veterans is Janice Bostick’s father.

Janice Bostick, of Harrison Township, is senior vice president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Bruce Post. She said her father, an 89-year-old World War II veteran — and all veterans — deserve to be honored.

“They sacrificed their lives,” she said. “They’re very special people.”

She said, sometimes, she feels like not enough is done for veterans, but there are other times, “it’s amazing, the overwhelming support they have.”

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, state Sen. Steve Bieda and state Rep. Sarah Roberts were also on hand for the ceremony.

Levin said he was disappointed in the wait times for some disabled veterans to receive medical care and said the country needs to do better.

“We need to rededicate ourselves to making (sure) those who served and have come home” have the opportunities promised to them, he said. “You need to have access to the various services that reflect your service to this country.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.