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Memorial Day 2022 events planned for Kalamazoo area, including Fort Custer ceremony

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KALAMAZOO, MI — After two years without many Memorial Day ceremonies and activities taking place due to the pandemic, parades and services are returning to Southwest Michigan in 2022.

Two of the weekend’s marquee events will occur at Fort Custer over the weekend, beginning with a flag-placing ceremony Saturday, May 28 at the Fort Custer National Cemetery, 15501 Dickman Road, in Augusta.

By day’s end, over 23,000 flags are expected to have been placed on the graves of veterans who are interred at the cemetery, a news release from the cemetery states. The public is welcome to attend and help place flags. Those wishing to help are asked to arrive by 8 a.m.

The annual Memorial Day event, for the first time since 2019, will then take place at the cemetery grounds at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 29. Included in the program will be patriotic music by the Cereal City Concert Band and the Kalamazoo Area Pipers, a flyover by the renowned Hooligans Flight Team, a speech from Ret. Navy Lt. Com. T. R. Shaw, Jr., the laying of wreaths to fallen heroes and numerous other events.

“As we reflect on the cost of freedom we know how important it is to honor those individuals who have preserved that special gift for us,” said Deborah G. Owens, chairperson of the Fort Custer National Cemetery Advisory Committee. “That is what we do at the Fort Custer National Cemetery.”

Owens said she hopes those who attend this year’s events will not only honor those sacrifices but leave with a warmth in their heart for those who made them.

Kalamazoo Memorial Day

The Military Color Guard participates in a ceremony at the Riverside Ceremony following the 2019 Memorial Day Parade in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (MLive file photo)

Also returning for the first time since 2019 is the Kalamazoo Memorial Day Parade and ensuing service, co-sponsored by Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. youth organization and the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo Sunrise.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. Monday, May 30 in front of the Kalamazoo County courthouse at 227 W. Michigan Ave., heads east down Michigan Avenue, north on Riverview Drive and east on Gull Road, ending at Riverside Cemetery at 1015 Gull Road, where a ceremony will follow the parade’s conclusion at 11 a.m.

“We are very, very excited,” said Charles Parker, executive director of Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E. and incoming president of Kalamazoo Sunrise. “It’s been two long years of nothing going on.

“It’s important to celebrate our veterans, both fallen and present, who served our country well, so we can have the rights and the freedom we have today.”

Parker said while Memorial Day is traditionally a day to honor those who have fallen it is important to take the time to honor those veterans who are still with us as well.

“We sometimes take them for granted, so it’s important to let them know that we appreciate them,” he said. “I always tell people that it’s good to give people the flowers while they’re alive, to let them know we really appreciate them.”

Among the highlights at the ceremony will be a musical presentation from a combined band made up of the Kalamazoo Central and Loy Norrix High School bands, Parker said.

Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided for those who need one, he said.

Some other events happening in the Kalamazoo area include:

Portage Memorial Day Service: Hosted by American Legion Post 207, the service will take place at 11 a.m. Monday, May 30 in Veterans Memorial Park, 300 Library Lane. The Portage Memorial Day Parade, traditionally hosted by VFW Post 5855, will not be held for the third consecutive year.

South Haven Memorial Day Parade: The South Haven Memorial Day Parade will commence at 9 a.m., Monday, May 30 at the intersection of Center Street and Michigan Avenue, head north to Phoenix Street and east toward Lakeview Cemetery, 191 Bailey Ave., where a ceremony will be held to remember fallen veterans.

Hickory Corners: A pancake breakfast will get the day started from 7-9:30 a.m. at the Hickory Corners Fire Department, 14505 Kellogg School Rd. and be followed with the parade, which will begin at 10 a.m. sharp. The parade begins at Cadwallader Park, proceeds east through town and ends at the East Hickory Corners Cemetery, where a ceremony will be held to honor fallen veterans.

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