Fallen soldiers honored at Holly Memorial Day ceremony

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

There are thousands of veterans buried on the grounds of Great Lakes National Cemetery, but for Detroiter Rozell Lynn Smith, there’s only one Stanley Smith. He’s her father, and she knows exactly where to find him.

Smith, 42, has been going to the cemetery since her father died in November 2008 and she makes sure to be there to lay a flag on his grave for either Memorial Day or Father’s Day. It’s an important reminder of the man who served with the Army in Korea and Vietnam, and an important reminder of what the day means.

“I know he’s not there, he’s now in heaven, but I just come and visit and have a time of peace,” she said. “We’re the land of the free, and we’re celebrating our freedom and the people who serve us.”

Dozens gathered at the cemetery Sunday afternoon for a ceremony to honor the fallen. There were speakers and a salute. They played “Taps,” which Smith remembered from her father’s funeral.

While many will spend this Memorial Day weekend with family and friends, out boating or at barbecues, Smith wants to remind everyone what the time is really for.

“A lot of people have died for us, to serve us, to take care of us, so we can have barbecues and so we can enjoy this extra day off that we get,” Smith said. “And there are a lot of people out there serving today, to afford us these opportunities to enjoy.”

Flint resident George Harris turned 56 Sunday and spent his birthday standing up with the VFW Post 3087 Honor Guard to pay his respect to the fallen.

Harris, who had three uncles and his grandfather serve during World War II, always wanted to follow in their footsteps and join the service, but health problems prevented him. Since he couldn’t go in, he decided he would join the honor guard as an auxiliary member.

“It almost makes you want to break down and cry, a lump in your throat. because you know all these men and women gave up their lives for our safety and speech,” said Harris. “Whatever we want to do we can do because of them.”