Source: Sherman Publications

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I pledge allegiance to the flag...

by Trevor Keiser

May 30, 2012

Young Marines salute the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance at the Orion Veterans Memorial Service. Photo by T. Keiser
The Orion Veterans Memorial was "bursting at the seams," according to Dr. Joseph Mastromatteo. The large crowd turned out to pay their respects and honor veterans both past and present.

"We shattered all records of any ceremony in 19 years," he said. "It was just incredibly heartwarming to see so many people here."

The ceremony included the North Oakland Young Marines, Church Street Singers performed patriotic songs, a gun a salute and the playing of taps by the Michigan Minuteman Platoon, as well as the dedication and unveiling of center monument in the memorial.

The center monument features a father, mother, and kid sister embracing their son and brother who is either getting ready to depart or is returning home from war.

"To get to this point yes it took us 19 years, but we had so many different ideas before we got to the main monument that it prevented us from getting it done quite frankly. The Purple Heart monument, Medal of Honor, the Fallen Soldier, the Peacoat monument and the branches of service wall, the freedom wall, and the benefactors wall, as well as the meditation area," Mastromatteo said. "All of these things were wonderful ideas. It just delayed the construction of our main monument, which came about today, thanks to wonderful Vietnam Veteran Sculpture Frank Varga who made a wonderful offer. We never expected this, thank the good Lord. He did that monument for materials costs only."

Mastromatteo also mention the Steven Leech Family of Lake Orion also donated months of work too. They welded the pieces that were carved and cast by Varga.

"We worked a long time for this to get what we wanted and we got it completed now," said Vietnam Army Sgt. Les Waggett. "We did a good job selling poppies, so we got most of this paid for."

Waggett said their goal was to raise $20,000 and they raised $21,000 total.

"The VFW and these guys I'm working with, what a great bunch of people," he said.

Chris Nehr, an army veteran in the crowd called it a "very touching ceremony."

"It brought me to tears momentarily and I couldn't keep it together," he said. But God bless America."