Honoring those who served: Kentwood, Wyoming host Memorial Day activities

Joe Rossi with his fellow Marines. Rossi is Wyoming's Memorial Day guest speaker.
Joe Rossi with his fellow Marines. Rossi is Wyoming’s Memorial Day guest speaker.

“Duty, honor, country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.” General Douglas MacArthur’s Thayer Award Speech, 1962.


Those words, “duty, honor, country” have become synonymous with a soldier. The motto of the United States Military Academy West Point, those words now adorn three arches at Wyoming’s Veterans Memorial Garden, located in front of the Wyoming Public Safety Department, 2300 DeHoop Ave. SW. The final arch, “Country” will be dedicated at the city’s annual Memorial Day Services, set for Monday, May 30, at 7 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Garden.


“Our Memorial Day Ceremony is a tribute to that service and protection,” said Rebecca Rynbrandt, the city’s directory of community services. “We are grateful to have the Veterans Memorial Garden in Wyoming. It is a place where we can hold these ceremonies and where people can honor and reflect, at any time, on those who have protected and those who continue to protect our freedoms.”


The new memorial arch, "Country" will be dedicated at Wyoming's Memorial Day Services set for Monday, May 30.
The new memorial arch, “Country” will be dedicated at Wyoming’s Memorial Day Services set for Monday, May 30.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was officially observed when in 1968, General John A. Logan, leader of the Northern Civil War veterans the Grand Army of the Republic, call for a nationwide day of remembrance. The date selected was May 30 since no major Civil War battles had ever been fought on that day. A 100 years later in 1968, the U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, changing Memorial Day to the last Monday in May with most communities like Wyoming and Kentwood observing it on that day. (Note: The City of Grand Rapids traditionally observes Memorial Day on May 30 no matter when that date falls in the week.)


Guest speaker for the Wyoming Memorial Day Services is Retired Lt. Joe Rossi, who is a candidate for judge in the 17th Circuit Court race. Rossi served 22 years as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps, including serving in Operation Desert Storm where he commended a rifle platoon of 41 Marines and one sailor. He led a hostage rescue unit and had two presidential recalls to active duty to command the Marine Corps Reserve Center in Grand Rapids, where he mobilized more than 400 Marines for service in East Africa and Iraq.


The rest of the program will include the Lee High School Band performing “As Heavens Were a Bell,” the Department of Public Safety Honor Guard firing a rifle salute, and Lee High School graduate and Navy veteran Bronson Sawn performing taps.


The city of Kentwood’s annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony also will be Monday, May 30. A parade will begin at 10 a.m. at 48th Street and Eastern Avenue, with the route proceeding west on 48th Street and finishing at the memorial at Veterans Park, 353 48th St. The American Legion Post 208 will host a ceremony at the park following the parade at around 10:45 a.m.


Both the Memorial Day programs from Kentwood and Wyoming will be aired on WKTV. The Kentwood Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony are set for 12:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday, May 30, with the Wyoming Memorial Day Service set for around 8:35 p.m.


For more on WKTV programming, visit www.wktv.org.