Oakland County Times: Ten Years of Memorial Day Memories
(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 26, 2021)
Throughout Oakland County Memorial Day has been honored with parades or ceremonies for decades. Without events in 2020 due to the Coronavirus, Oakland County Times decided to take a look back at parades throughout the decade leading up to that. We ran this in 2020 but feel it’s worth another visit…
In 2129, Captain Daniel Rice of the US Army and National Guard said he was was honored to be invited to speak at the longest running Memorial Day Parade in Michigan, which has happened in Downtown Ferndale.
It was the 101st year for the Ferndale Memorial Day parade, and the community came together as usual for an event that is a mix of solemn and cheerful as residents thank those who died in military service. “This is a great shin-dig,” he said. “I’m kind of awestruck here.”
The parade has long included the traditional memorials – red white and blue decorated bicycles and cars, marching bands, and veterans. But there’s also a solemn dedication called the Foot Float, where volunteers hold signs of people lost in service since the Gulf War began.
“When I was young I remember it was a four day weekend. It was planting season. It was barbecue season. It was camping season,” Rice said. “As I’ve aged I’ve gained knowledge. I’ve seen war. I’ve gained the sorrow that comes from that.”
Rice served as a Notification Officer. It was his job to go to the homes of loved ones after a soldier died. “I can’t explain to you how tough that is, but again, they were all fighting for freedom.”
He said that no matter what people may think about war and the reasons behind it, “every soldier I’ve met, from my experience, has had in their hearts to provide freedom for their families back home. …We take these [freedoms] for granted very often. …These service members who died fighting for it, wanted you to have freedom…to enjoy it…They want you to smile, to laugh, to enjoy time with family.”
Speaking about Memorial Day and the meaning of freedom, Rice’s voice cracked and his eyes watered up. Since 1775, more than 1.3 million have died in the US Armed Forces. Rice shared this statistic, and said that “a family from Ferndale has had a soldier that fought – and died – in every war.”
Here are some of our favorite pictures from a decade of covering the Ferndale parade and a few years of covering beyond our original community. Thanks to everyone who has helped us cover these!