Ferndale Recognizes its Veterans

Ferndale Recognizes its Veterans

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 11/11/2011)

Each year The Veteran’s Memorial Association hosts a Veteran’s Day Observance at Memorial Park on Livernois.  The service recognizes those who have served in the armed forces.  The memorial bell is rung at 11am, a prayer said along with the Pledge of Allegiance, and speeches and poems read in honor of those who served.

As an example of exemplary service, Naval Petty Officer Todd Caswell, who has served the country since graduating from Ferndale High School in 1981, was recognized by the group.  Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter spoke of Caswell’s record and many awards, and of the places where he’s traveled in defense of freedom.  Caswell recently shared information about his deployment in Afghanistan, and prior to that he was one of the recipients of a Quilt of Valor from the Ferndale Rotary.  Also he was at the Hangin’ w/the Heroes send off in March.

Barbara Earl, one of the Directors of the Memorial Association, has been involved for the past 38 years. “We didn’t have Veteran’s Day observances for a long time, but eleven years ago we started them up again because one of our Ferndale boys had been killed in the Persian Gulf,” Earl said. Joseph Watson of Ferndale was killed on Oct. 12, 2000 when the USS Cole was attacked in Yemeni.  Seventeen soldiers were killed and 39 more injured in the bombing.  “When that happened, I knew we had to do something to recognize him, and I don’t want him and his family forgotten today.  As long as I am able to, I want to make sure we keep this [Veteran’s Day observance] going.”

Earl’s father, John Gaffkay, had been the Association’s President years ago.  “He needed a secretary and I’ve been in ever since,” said the life-long Ferndale resident.

Ron Gilmour, founder of the Hangin’ with the Heroes organization, and Mayor Coulter each read poems expressing the sentiment of the day. 

Featured Speaker CWO3 Edwin Fore of the US Marine’s also shared his views, by giving an acronym of Veteran.  He said that the V stood for Valor and having “the strength of mind and spirit to face danger and uncertainty.”  The E stood for “Enduring love” of country.  The T stood for Tight Fore said, “There’s a closeness among vets born out of shared experience and hardships.”  The E stood for Energy and the R for Rough.  “They will tell you like it is whether you like it or not, we’re straight shooters,” he said.  The A is for Admired.  And the N is for Nice.  “Vets are nice people.  We open doors.  We say ‘yes, ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am,’ but don’t mistake our niceness for weakness,” he said.

The Memorial Mall on Livernois is a place where the names of local Veterans can be read any time, and it’s the site of Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day observances which are held each year.  Below are video clips from the 2011 observance.

On November 12th, Oakland County will host a resource fair for Veterans.  For more information go to http://oaklandcounty115.com/2011/11/10/veteran%e2%80%99s-day-observance-oakland-county-veteran%e2%80%99s-fair/.


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