BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Byron Township World War II monument, taken down years ago after West Michigan weather took a toll on the original wood structure, was rededicated on Veterans Day.
“We kind of rediscovered it at the Byron Center Historical Society’s archives. We found some pictures of the old, original World War II sign,” Doug Tubergen of the Byron Center Historical Society explained Monday. “Most of the old original sign, nobody knows whatever happened to that. So the committee decided we’re going to do a permanent, granite sign.”
Some $10,000 was raised by the Historical Society and American Legion Post 292 to place the new monument at the Byron Township Hall. This time, the 305 names of Byron Township residents who fought in World War II, including 14 who were killed in action, are etched in granite so future generations won’t forget their sacrifice.
“People don’t know because it’s not there in front of them anymore to learn from,” Tubergen said.
The rededication ceremony at Byron Township Hall included those several generations removed from the war: students from Brown Elementary in Byron Center.
On the other side of Kent County, more students — these from Forest Hills Central High School — gathered to say thank you to veterans who graduated from the district and dedicate their new interactive Wall of Honor.
Also there was Tom Carew. After graduating from Forest Hills in 1965, Carew enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. Unlike veterans of other conflicts, his return home was less than welcoming.
“We were pretty much told to stay out of the public view because at that time, the Vietnam War was not popular,” Carew said.
Half a century later, he is one of dozens of veterans recognized on Forest Hills Central’s new Wall of Honor.
A touch screen allows student to click on a name and learn more about a veterans who once walked the same hallways.
“The touch screen is what people get their information from, so the touch screen with people’s stories, I hope it helps,” Carew said. “It is history. And the people on that wall actually graduated from here, they lived in the community. They’re real people.”
If you have information on a Forest Hills graduate that should be added to the wall, you can contact the history teachers heading up the project: Steve Labenz at firstname.lastname@example.org or Brad Anderson at email@example.com.