Don't rain on these parades: Saline, Ypsilanti brave heat to host Memorial Day ceremonies
Saline resident Jared Isbell thinks often of his fellow service members still serving in Iraq.
The 24-year-old veteran said he is glad to be preparing to take classes at Eastern Michigan University while regaining strength from a gunshot wound to the leg he suffered in Iraq. But those who have given up their lives in service to their country or who are still braving dangers for it are never far from his mind.
So - despite the heat and humidity of the day on Monday - Isbell appeared in full uniform for Saline's annual Memorial Day parade. Besides, he said, the heat was nothing really. A hot spring day in Michigan can't hold a candle to Iraq's weather. At it's hottest, it got to be 135 degrees there, Isbell said.
"I figured, 'I took the heat over there,'" Isbell said. "It's not as hot over here. I can take the heat for my boys."
He was one of hundreds who gathered at Saline's Oakwood Cemetery at the end of the city's annual Memorial Day parade through downtown for a ceremony to commemorate all men and women who have served in all the American wars. The keynote speaker of the event was Paul Schwimmer, who recounted his experience searching for the remains of World War II service members as part of the BentProp organization.
The parade was among several events held throughout the county to commemorate Memorial Day over the extended weekend.
The weather Monday morning remained sunny throughout the ceremonies, and at least one marching band member from Saline Area Schools collapsed from the heat onto the pavement during the ceremonies.
Emergency personnel checked her condition and determined that she had suffered some scrapes from her fall, but was doing OK, a band director said later.
After her injury, band members were encouraged to sit down and removed their heavy jackets while ice was distributed out of a cooler and some buckets and bottles of water arrived. At least four people were treated for heat-related illness, according to the Saline Police Department.. None of the illnesses were believed to be life threatening. The National Weather Service, temperatures reached the 80s Monday morning before storms moved through the area.
At the Ypsilanti Memorial Day Parade held earlier in the day, former members of the military, as well as high school marching bands, Scout troops, emergency service vehicles and politicians marched down North Huron Street to Depot Town while local residents lined the streets.
William Eaton, of Hamburg, was one of several members of the Ann Arbor chapter of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War marching in Ypsilanti's parade.
Having formerly served in the Air Force, Eaton is a self-professed Civil War buff who researched his family genealogy a while back to find a former civil war soldier in his lineage. He was fascinated to learn the family member was part of the outfit that captured Jefferson Davis, the leader of the Confederacy and survived the war. One of the soldier's daughters settled in Michigan.
Eaton, who is commander of the chapter, said the group was marching to honor those who served and died during the Civil War and to recognize the lasting impact of that war, including the end of slavery.
"One of my daughters says, 'Oh no, don't get Dad started on the Civil War. "But you find all this out and it's interesting."
Sitting in a patch of shade near the corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Huron Street, Ypsilanti resident Tracee Martin said the parade is something she and her family look forward to. Four generations, including her mother, Dorothy Booker; her daughter Tiera Martin, and her 17-month-old granddaughter, Mariah Cotton, were able to enjoy the day outside together, she said.
Tracee Martin said cousins serving in Iraq and her sister, on her third tour of duty in the Army, were in the front of her mind. Their service brings a special appreciation for days like Monday, she said.
"It's not just members of the military, but it's remembering all those we have lost," she said. "It makes you feel so grateful for all the things you have and stop worrying about the things you don't because you're still here for another one."