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Honoring 100 Years of Veterans Day in Muskegon County

WW2 Reenactor, Chris Johnson, aboard the USS LST 393 Museum

2019 commemorates the 100th anniversary of “Veterans Day”. 101 years ago…on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, “The Great War” came to an end.

The “war to end all wars” was one of the most destructive wars in modern history. The conflict resulted in the deaths of more than 16 million soldiers and civilians. One year later Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” marking the first anniversary of the end of World War I.

In 1926 Congress passed a resolution to observe Armistice annually and in 1938 is became a national holiday. President Dwight D. Eisenhower renamed the annual observance “Veterans Day” in 1954.

Muskegon County is proud of our memorials and events marking and honoring this day. Visit Muskegon is equally proud to share events and sites for you to visit this November.

Great Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near November 11th. Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). This November, Muskegon County also honors all of those who have served our country and their sacrifices, whether living or gone. And there are many.

This Veterans Day, visit one of our Military Museums or Memorial sites:

* Civil War Monuments in Hackley Park


“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by sculptor Ari Norris is located near the bow of the USS LST 393 Veterans Museum. The statue represents Muskegon-born Clarence Zylman, the famed Boogie Woogie Bugler of World War II and topic of the famous The Andrews Sisters song, later re-recorded by Bette Midler.

Veterans Day Events to Attend:

Larry Martin is a historian dedicated to bringing the stories of World War II to as many people as possible.  He will be sharing his interview with Pearl Harbor Veteran Warner Klemm, stationed aboard the USS Dobbin, 200 yards to the stern of the USS Arizona.  Of all of the stories Martin has collected, Klemm’s is the most complete eyewitness description of what President Roosevelt called the “Day of Infamy.”  This event is free.  Feel free to come early to look at his collection of WWII memorabilia and photographs.

Lectures will be presented every Monday at 6:00pm. The week leading up to the lecture a film on a related subject will be screened daily at 1:00pm. The cost is $5.00 to attend the lecture. Movie viewings are included with $6 admission ticket to the museum. Both lecture and movies are FREE with your USS Silversides Submarine Museum membership.

The VFW Post 446 Color Guard joins the USS Silversides Museum for a traditional flag retirement ceremony; the correct method of burning no longer serviceable American Flags and burying their ashes. Any flags that the a member of the public wishes to have properly, and ceremonially, disposed can be brought to the museum any day before the ceremony during normal business hours. This is event is free to attend and open to the public.

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.

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.

  • Monday, November 11, 7:00 pm | Exhibit Opening:  Those Who Cared For Those Who Served | USS Silversides

Attend the opening of USS Silversides Submarine Museums newest Exhibit “Those Who Cared For Those Who Served.” The USS Silversides will honor those Corpsman, Chaplains and the Medical Services in all branches of the military who provided support to those served.  This is a group which often goes unrecognized.  The USS Silversides Museum is honored  to highlight those who cared for those who served.

  • From Veterans Day until New Year’s Day| Tribute Flags: Memorialize your Veteran for the Holiday Season | USS Silversides

Muskegon Named Michigan’s “Most Patriotic City”:

In 2018 the insurance company Insurify analyzed over 900,00 insurance applications looking for individuals named on their policies who were active or former service members. The resulting data was analyzed to determine the percentage of service members in each state. Once the top-ranking city in each state was identified, Muskegon County was recognized as having the highest number of active and former service members in the state of Michigan! We thank them and ALL the rest. Each deserve to be saluted for their contributions to the national defense.

The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
~ Douglas MacArthur