Hundreds attend memorial flag ceremony

By TOM TIGANI
Sunday Times Newspapers

 

LINCOLN PARK — Over 200 filled two sets of bleachers and chair seats at Memorial Park last Sunday while many others stood by for the dedication of a field of flags recognizing the city’s 111 war dead.

 

The names of all were called, a bell was rung and an honor guard came forward to place the 3-foot-by 5-foot flags around the city’s war memorial monument.

 

The effort was led by the Exchange Club of Lincoln Park.

 

Thomas Karnes, past president of the local club and immediate past president of the national group’s Michigan District, said members had seen the “healing fields” created by the Utah-based Colonial Flag Foundation after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and got the idea to bring a field to Lincoln Park.

 

The ceremony also marked the unveiling of the park’s newest memorial in honor of 24-year-old Sgt. Craig Stuart
Frank, a military police officer in the Michigan Army National Guard who was killed in an ambush while guarding a
convoy in Iraq in 2004.

 

The dedication ceremony also featured a secondary traveling wall honoring veterans of Vietnam, other wars and 9/11.

 

Many of the flag bearers were family members of the deceased.

 

“When the families came to get the flags, it brought everything back to light,” Karnes said, adding that some local veterans group members broke down as they remembered things about those who gave their all.

 

At the end of the ceremony, a 1946 petition was read to have a monument for comrades who didn’t return.

 

For Karnes, who also is the city’s police chief, perhaps the most memorable moment came at reading of the name of
a brother of a man who helped put the event together.

 

“He was at a reunion and couldn’t attend, and I had the opportunity to grab a flag and carry it for them,” Karnes
said.

 

He called the event a success in preserving the memories of the fallen.

 

“A lot of these names not been spoken in a while,” Karnes said. “Most of them were 19 to 23 years old when they were killed.”

 

Not all of the honoring took place at the ceremony, however.

 

He said that Monday night he saw a boy about 12 years old riding by on his bicycle.

 

“He took his hat off even though he kept going, and put it back on when he was past,” Karnes said. “I thought that
was neat.”

 

The flags will be taken down after a closing ceremony at 11 a.m. today.