Veterans Day events in W. MI amid pandemic

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizers to cancel or alter Veterans Day parades in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, some organizations still held events Wednesday. 

Here are a few of the events held in West Michigan:

DEGAGE MINISTRIES 

Degage Ministries held its annual Veterans Day lunch, but it was split into two different luncheons for a total of about 80 Heartside-area veterans. Each veteran received a meal, dessert and an honorary pin.

Degage leaders said Veterans Day is not only a good time to honor service men and women but also a reminder that there are special services in Grand Rapids to make sure all veterans have a home.

“There are homeless veterans our community but our community is committed to making no veteran is homeless. So if there is anyone who is a veteran and experiencing homelessness, we want to come alongside them and connect them with resources,” Degage Executive Director Marge Parmalee said.

WALKER AMERICAN LEGION FLAG COLLECTION BOX

A new flag collection box was unveiled in a small ceremony in Walker.

The city of Walker, American Legion Post 1111, HD5A Design and DeWys Manufacturing partnered to create the box, where people can leave old flags to be properly retired in the spring.

“I’m really honored that the veterans and the community came out to see this project to the fruition,” American Legion Post 1111 Commander Jena Wilmers said. “We really just couldn’t have asked for anything better on a day like today cause it’s cold.”

The first person to retire a flag was Douglas Voss, a Korean War veteran. He was touched by the ceremony. 

“It is an honor to be asked to be the first citizen of Walker to retire one of the flags,” he said.

The box can be found at Sobie Meats on Remembrance Road. Another will soon be placed at Walker City Hall.

—News 8’s Justin Kollar contributed to this report.

WEST OTTAWA HIGH SCHOOL PARADE

West Ottawa High School made some changes to its Veterans Day activities. Instead of an assembly, it hosted a parade to honor veterans. Around 70 local veterans were a part of it, as well as elementary and middle school students.

“We must have had 40 or 50 cars lined up of local veterans and there were a lot of people in the cars, too, so they brought their families, which was just a really cool thing,” West Ottawa High School Assistant Principal Ryan Oshnock said. “And every year, the veterans do really look forward to this day. I think we do a really nice job of putting together a nice celebration for our veterans. And it was really neat to see them outside today.”

Normally, students get a chance to speak with veterans but because this year was different, they instead watched a special video presentation put together by the high school’s broadcasting class.

HOLLAND HIGH SCHOOL ASSEMBLY

At 11 a.m., Holland High School took its annual assembly online. During the virtual ceremony, the school continued its traditional Roll Call of Honor to recognize each fallen soldier from Holland High School.

GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY 

Grand Valley State University celebrated Veterans Day by announcing a new initiative, promising admission to any enlisted 2021 Michigan high school graduates. Eligible students will have a spot reserved at Grand Valley when they have completed their service or can begin online while they are active duty.

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