Custer VFW travels around county to mark day
Amid a sunny sky, a gentle breeze and flags flying at half-staff, salutes and solemn prayers were offered Monday as the honor guard of the Custer VFW and Auxiliary Gold Bar Post 5096 continued its Memorial Day tradition of hosting ceremonies at six sites to pay homage to the sacrifices of fallen military service members.
“We owe it to them,” said Mark Trim, who served as the honor guard’s officer of the day.
Riding a Mason County Eastern school bus from site to site Monday morning, the honor guard lowered the American flag to half-staff, saluted with rifle shots and placed emblems in tribute to those who have died in the line of duty. They visited Mason County Central high school, Riverside Park in Scottville, the Custer and Free Soil cemeteries, the Trooper Paul Butterfield roadside memorial and the Custer VFW’s own post.
“As long as two comrades survive, so will the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States render tribute to our heroic dead,” honor guard member Jeff Peters recited during the ceremonies.
The Rev. John Hansen, a Michigan State Police chaplain, provided invocations for the ceremonies.
“We pray that the sacrifices of our fallen will forever be remembered, and that recognition of our veterans not merely convey thanks but demonstrate it,” Hansen said.
Community members of all ages also attended the ceremonies, including Lynda Papes and Donna Quinlan, who watched the honor guard with their families at the cemetery in Free Soil.
“It’s so special they come to our cemetery and do this to remember the veterans,” Papes said.
Her father-in-law served in World War II and other relatives of hers are also veterans, so they come to the ceremony each year to honor them and the fallen veterans, she explained.
“It brings tears to my eyes,” Quinlan added.
The ceremonies were also assisted by the Mason County Eastern and Mason County Central high school bands and music teacher Tom Thomas, the Custer VFW’s Patriotic Stars youth organization, the Rev. Jay Piper of Bachelor Evangelical Covenant Church in Fountain, Michigan State Police troopers and many more.
Trim thanked everyone who contributed, and he said he hopes more will volunteer next year.
He told the Daily News that it’s difficult for the honor guard to hold all the ceremonies it does for Memorial Day and for veteran’s funerals if the Custer VFW doesn’t have enough volunteers. He urged more veterans to participate.
“It’s hard sometimes because we can’t get enough people,” Trim said. “We’re looking for eligible veterans to join the VFW.”