Since World War I, 347 men and women soldiers from Dearborn have given their lives in service and their names are inscribed on Dearborn’s War Memorial.
“We are here to honor Dearborn men and woman who gave their lives in service to our country,” Dearborn Public Schools Executive Director Adam Martin said during a May 25 service. “Throughout its history, the residents of Dearborn have answered a call to serve. Its sons and daughters have been sent away to far away conflicts never to return. These individuals had courage, they had pride, they loved their families and community. They were willing to risk their lives so that we could live in peace.”
Students at Fordson High School researched three of those soldiers, one from each of three different wars, and gave a presentation on them at the school’s ceremony.
Shaun Wilson, an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Marines, served as the keynote speaker of the event. He is a seasoned strategic communication, marketing and business management professional with more than 20 years of experience.
Lisa Lark, a former Dearborn Public School teacher and author of “All They Left Behind: Legacies of Men and Women of the Wall,” and “Gone Too Soon: Dearborn Remembers Its Fallen Heroes,” served as the event emcee.
American Legion Post No. 364 provided an honor guard.
The event, for the 10th straight year, was held in honor of Walter Kielb, a Marine private who was killed on June 22, 1944, during the battle of Saipan. He had a memorial erected in his honor, which was moved to Fordson High School in 2012.
School Board Trustee Hussein Berry and Korean War Veteran John Ruselowski spoke about Kielb, and why it was imporant to continue to honor him.
“To the thousands of men and women from Fordson High School, we acknowledge their heroism and express a sincere appreciation for the service and their sacrifices,” Berry said.
Years later, he said, the city dedicated Walter Kielb Park. Over the years, the park usage fell off and the memorial was damaged.
Ruselowski brought it to Berry’s attention and they worked together to move a giant rock to the Tractors football stadium and raise money for a new plaque that was dedicated in 2012.
Wilson called Memorial Day a “sacred occasion” that began when soldiers and newly freed slaves decorated the graves of Civil War soldiers.
“We have used this American Tradition to pay respect to those who didn’t come home,” he said. “They deserve our respect and to be honored.”
During his speech, Wilson used quotes from Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Martin Luthor King Jr., Calvin Coolidge and others.
Muhammad Ali Hahli presented on WWII soldier Gerard Antaillia. Xhiko Ahmeti presented on Korean War soldier Charled Dubas and Layan Sannan presented on Vietnam War veteran Raymond Borowski, all of which didn’t make it home from their respective conflicts.
Lark spoke near the end of the ceremony about her research into all of Dearborn’s fallen soldiers.
“They were just like you,” she said. “When you look, the city of Dearborn’s total of 347 names on the war memorial, their ages range from 18 to 32. They left behind mothers and fathers, and friends.”
When she first started researching, Lark said, she heard a story about Robert Benici, who had died nearly 50 years earlier.
“One woman remembered him for delivering her newspapers when he was 12 years old,” she said. “That is what is lost when these men and women give their lives in service to this country.”
Dearborn High and Edsel Ford each held separate ceremonies to honor the fallen from the respective school.
Dearborn Schools also will be represented in the city of Dearborn’s Memorial Day Parade on May 30. Several schools have bands performing in the parade and some school-related groups also are set to participate. The Memorial Day Parade will start at 10 a.m., but it is preceded by a ceremonial funeral procession at 9:40 a.m. The parade begins at Michigan Avenue and Maple and travels to the Henry Ford Centennial Library.