HEATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — While virtual ceremonies are replacing many West Michigan parades this Memorial Day because of COVID-19, the parade carried on in Hamilton.
People lined the streets from Hamilton Middle School to the new veterans memorial on M-40 for the “Protest Parade.” More than 100 vehicles took part in the event.
Organizers and spectators tell News 8 they’re only protesting the lack of a formal Memorial Day event.
First responders, police and fire departments were noticeably absent from the event, and many who participated distanced themselves from politics.
“I have a low immune system and have been staying inside pretty much all the time,” said Marcia Slotman from Overisel. “However, this is very important to me and I just want to honor them.”
Organizer Ken Beyer told News 8 Memorial Day is about remembering our past and he doesn’t condone those who used this event to support their political agenda.
“This is all about the troops. And that’s the only thing it’s about,” he said. “It’s about the heroes that died for us and gave everything so we could be here. It’s about them.”
Meanwhile, Zeeland was one of the first local communities to share its prerecorded tribute to the 713 servicemen and women from the area “who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
“Due to Covid-19 and the inability to gather in groups, the Zeeland community will celebrate Memorial Day, from the safety of our own homes. We will honor those who have served, are serving, or gave the ultimate sacrifice while in service to our country,” the city stated in its post.
Holland also held its Memorial Day ceremony online, livestreaming the event on YouTube.
In South Haven, local Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan carried on a Memorial Day tradition, making the milelong march through downtown to Lakeview Cemetery to pay tribute to fallen service members.
Tom Renner captured the moment and shared it with News 8.
Renner says this would’ve been the 50th consecutive year McCloughan led the city’s Memorial Day parade, but it too was canceled because of COVID-19.
When members of the American Legion Post 49 learned of McCloughan’s plan to march the route, its honor guard joined him.
Practicing social distancing, veterans also gathered at the legion post for the playing of taps and a gun volley, which gained the attention of nearby boaters and beach-goers.
Lakeview hosted a vehicle procession through town to its Lakeview Cemetery. Three Rivers also held a Memorial Day ceremony at Riverside Cemetery, but urged all visitors to practice social distancing.
Michigan State Police troopers honored enlisted MSP members who’ve died by placing state flags at each of their gravesites throughout the state.
A U.S. Army Orthopedic surgeon came up with a way to honor the fallen in Martin. Lt. Col. Kevin Martin, a third generation Army veteran, made coming home and participating in Memorial Day services in his hometown a tradition.
He organized a smaller parade alongside fellow veterans who carried flags to the veterans memorial.
In Grand Rapids, West Catholic High School’s choir and band compiled a virtual performance of the National Anthem, which they released on YouTube this Memorial Day.
Students of Belmont and Parkside elementary schools also posted a “we remember” tribute on Facebook Friday.