POWs/MIAs to be honored at Dearborn Memorial Day Parade

Photo courtesy of the city of Dearborn
Before the 2011 Memorial Day Parade, an honor guard escorts a caisson holding the cremains of servicemen who hadn’t received a proper burial.

Ambassador Charles A. Ray and Sen. Carl Levin will serve as grand marshals for the parade; a solemn ceremony will follow

    DEARBORN — Continuing one of the city’s oldest traditions, Dearborn’s 89th annual Memorial Day Parade will take place at 10 a.m. Monday.
Presented each year by the Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council and the city of Dearborn, the parade is one of the largest in the United States.
Thousands of community members attend each year to watch veterans, bands, community and service organizations march in the parade, which runs east on Michigan Avenue from Greenfield Road to Schaefer.
A solemn ceremony will follow at noon at Dearborn’s War Memorial on the grounds of City Hall.

Parade will focus on sacrifices of POW/MIA soldiers
This year’s parade will pay special tribute to prisoners of war, former prisoners of war and those whose fate is still undetermined, as well as their families.
“The issue of POWs has always been important to me,” said DAWVC Commander Philip Smith, whose father was taken as a POW during World War II. “I want to make sure all our POWs are honored.”
Capt. Christopher Stone, a Michigan resident and former POW, will serve as a special marshal in the parade.
While serving during the Kosovo War in March 1999, Stone and his comrades were captured by Serbian forces near the Yugoslavia-Macedonia border. They were held as POWs for 32 days before their release and return to the United States.
Additionally, several members of a support group for former POWs from the Ann Arbor Veterans’ Hospital will take part in the parade and ceremony.

Grand marshals are U.S. senator, ambassador
The parade will feature two grand marshals: Ambassador Charles A. Ray and Sen. Carl Levin. Both men have connections to POW/MIA issues.
Ray was deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs and director at the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office from 2006 to 2009, after being appointed by President George W. Bush. His mission included the rescue of individuals who fell in harm’s way as a result of combat.
In addition he served 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service where he was the first United States Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Other diplomatic positions included ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, deputy chief of mission for the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affair in Sierra Leone, and most recently as ambassador to Zimbabwe (2009-12).
Ray also served 22 years in the army, retiring as a major in 1982.
Levin has served Michigan in the U.S. Senate since 1978. He has been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for his entire career in Congress, and has been chairman since 2007.
During his time in office, Levin has spearheaded several POW/MIA initiatives, including authorizing the display of the POW/MIA flag at federal facilities and national cemeteries, as well as supporting the annual National POW/MIA Day of Recognition.

Parade to include 70 groups
The parade will feature more than 70 groups looking to pay tribute to America’s veterans and those who died in service to their country.
The lineup will include bands from Dearborn’s four high schools and several middle schools, veterans groups from Dearborn and surrounding areas, local elected officials, multiple scout and community groups, and a tribute to veterans from Ford Motor Co.
A flyover with historic aircraft will be part of the commemoration.

Solemn remembrance ceremony
A remembrance service led by the DAWVC will follow the parade at noon in front of City Hall at the Dearborn War Memorial.
The ceremony will include music performed by the Divine Child High School Band, as well as a laying of the memorial wreath. Former POWs, as well as some of Dearborn’s oldest living veterans, will be honored.
The grand marshals will deliver keynote speeches, and Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. will offer remarks.
The public is invited to attend. Seating is provided.

Learn more, watch the parade live from home
The Memorial Day Parade will be televised live on City of Dearborn Television, which is Comcast channel 12 and WOW channel 10. It can also been seen on AT&T U-verse and at www.cityofdearborn.org.
To learn more about the parade, go to www.cityofdearborn.org/memorialdayparade. Those interested can also follow city of Dearborn government on Facebook for historic photos and detailed event information leading up to Memorial Day.