The 2014 edition of the annual Glacier Highlands Neighborhood Association Memorial Day parade resembled the parades of previous years in almost every way.
The parade itself – which winds through a northeastern Ann Arbor neighborhood – featured a squad car from the Ann Arbor police department, a fire truck, a bagpiper, several candidates for local political office, the drum line from Huron High School marching band, and a herd of neighborhood kids bringing up the rear on their decorated bicycles.
The parade ended as it does every year at Glacier Highlands Park – where free donuts, and for-sale hotdogs are on offer. But the focus immediately after the parade is always on the memorial service: “Lay off the donuts until after the ceremony!” came an admonishment over the PA system this year.
The memorial service is not complicated. The colors are presented, a bagpiper pipes Amazing Grace, a trumpeter blows Taps, and the names of Michigan servicemen and servicewomen who were killed in action over the last year are read aloud.
The ceremony was officiated by Capt. Brian Cech – commander of the 1776 Military Police Company out of Taylor, Mich. What was different this year was the lack of the customary list: No Michiganders were this year among those who fell in combat.
But Cech still read aloud a list of names – those Michigan citizens in uniform, who died of illness, accidents, or suicide in the past year. “As we have learned over time,” Cech said, “the toll of the war zone does not stop after our warriors have returned home.”
Here’s the list that Cech read aloud:
- Sgt. Maj. Eric C. Post
- Sgt. Thomas E. Radosevich
- Spc. Richard A. Bloomquist
- Sgt. Renita C. Stevens
- PV2 Brian J. Whitaker
- Sgt. Christopher T. Shenk
- Sgt. Robert M. Nanni
- Sgt. Desmond E. Davis
- Master Sgt. William R. Madden
- Staff Sgt. Patrick W. Wisniewski
- Hospital Corpsman Andrew Shipper
That might not be a complete list of all those in Michigan who wore the uniform and passed away during the last year. That’s according to Lt. Col. Kevin Bohnsack, who spoke with The Chronicle before the parade about preparing for the ceremony. Bohnsack, who lives about a block off the parade route, described how neighborhood resident Stephen Landes had previously prepared the name list – but Landes had passed away during the last year. And Landes’ methodology was not known. So Bohnsack had done the best he could.
Bohnsack had researched the background for some of those on the list, highlighting Davis, who died of ALS at age 41, and Nanni, who died in a car accident at age 29. Davis earned a Purple Heart and three bronze starts among other distinctions for his service in Iraq. Nanni earned a bronze star during his service over multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Walking along neighborhood streets with The Chronicle to the parade entrant staging area, Bohnsack pointed out an additional resource for information about the parade: “Ingrid, up there, she knows what’s going on.” It turns out that Bohnsack knew “Ingrid” as one of the parade organizers, not as Ingrid Sheldon the former mayor of Ann Arbor. Apprised of that fact, he allowed that politicians have a place in the parade, because that is “also a part of our democracy.”
But for his part, Bohnsack focused on the non-political aspect of the parade, stressing that as a member of the military, you swear to obey orders from the commander-in-chief, whoever that might be at the time. He’d spent some of his morning policing the placement of campaign signs in the park – so that they were confined to a designated area.
Here are a few highlights from this year’s parade.
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