Hillsdale Daily News: Veterans Day draws crowds
HILLSDALE — “On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you for your service and welcome home.”
Those words were part of a brief speech delivered by Congressman Tim Walberg on Monday during this year’s Veterans Day ceremony at the fair.
Congressman Walberg, Sen. Mike Shirkey and Rep. Eric Leutheuser were honored guests at the ceremony.
Activities and ceremonies began at the Nichols Bandshell immediately following the Hillsdale County Fair parade on Monday.
Michael Nye, a former state representative and county probate judge, was awarded the Hillsdale County Veteran of the Year award during the first ceremony.
“This community has blessed me and my family,” Nye said. “Thank you.”
The 2018 Veteran of the Year Runner Up was awarded to James Cramer of Waldron.
Cramer has been involved in bolstering youth activities including the Boy Scouts of America and leading Bible studies at the Waldron VFW.
“I was a draftee at the time of the Vietnam War,” Cramer said. “I want to thank the military for giving me the opportunity to see life beyond myself.”
Gary Noblit, who chairs the Veteran of the Year committee, said perhaps the biggest issue the committee has is choosing just one recipient.
“We have a lot of great veterans in this county,” Noblit said.
The Veteran of the Year ceremony has been in place since 1964 and recipients are chosen veterans who continue to serve their neighbors through community service.
Following the ceremony, a monument honoring all past recipients of the award was unveiled at the entrance of the bandshell.
The Jonesville American Legion Post 195 began planning the project in 2016 and the project was completed by Dominik Balser, an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America.
Balser and the legion post had several private donations in support of the project from various businesses and private individuals.
The monument, shaped like the front end of a ship bearing the numbers 195, includes 30mm rounds engraved with each recipients names dating back to 1964.
After the unveiling, the guests of honor and several Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II veterans gathered at the Traveling Michigan Vietnam Memorial, on display at the fairgrounds until Tuesday, for pinning by Walberg.
Walberg pinned each and every veteran present with commemorative pins indicating World War II, Korean War and Vietnam individually. Shirkey and Leutheuser stood by his side to also thank each of the veterans for their sacrifices during a time of war.
Dale Smith, the sole World War II veteran present, shared with Walberg and other guests a remarkable recollection of deployments in Guadalcanal and the Philippines Islands during World War II.
Renae Shircliff, the director of the Hillsdale County Veterans Affairs Office, organized the pinning ceremony and secured the traveling wall for all to see.
A book of register accompanies the traveling wall that includes five veterans from Hillsdale who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.
This article originally appeared in the September 25 edition of the Hillsdale Daily News.