GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Residents and their loved ones paid tribute to those who gave their lives serving in the U.S. military at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
Wendee Bailey was among the couple hundred who attended the 44th annual Memorial Day ceremony on Tuesday, May 30. She showed up to pay respect to her uncle, Robert Bailey, who died in March and lived in the veterans home for the last 13 years.
“Right now there’s so much turmoil going on in the world,” Bailey said. “When you can see the other side of things and the people who defend us, it’s really heartwarming.”
It was great to hear the keynote speaker – Major General Gregory Vadnais – take the stage and offer a patriotic speech during the ceremony, Bailey said, calling it “uplifting.”
Vadnais gave a speech of optimism, providing hope for the crowd, despite the loss of their loved ones to war.
In addition to Vadnais’ speech, the ceremony included remarks from James Redford, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, a representative from the U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a ceremony with blue and gold star mothers paying tribute to military lives lost at sea, a rifle salute, and closing prayer.
Bailey’s uncle was one of 84 deceased veterans who had lived in the home and passed away since last year’s Memorial Day. Their names were read during the ceremony to pay respect to their memory and family members.
Bailey has been coming to the facility for the last 13 years to visit her uncle, who served in the Army Air Forces during World War II, she said.
“It’s a wonderful facility,” Bailey said. “Thank god they have this because some of them, like my uncle, don’t have families.”
Her uncle had no wife or children of his own, Bailey said, but was well known for his “quirky” personality at the veterans home.
“Our heroes leave us a legacy of freedom that have taught their children and their children’s children the value of sacrifice, work and virtue — necessary virtues of freedom,” Vadnais said.