Veterans' Day Tribute

By: Lauren Zakalik
By: Lauren Zakalik

On Saturday morning, mid-Michigan veterans marched into Eastern High School, where they were greeted by familiar sounds and familiar faces.

"I have enjoyed my time in the Marine Corps and I was very proud to serve. I'd serve now if they'd have me, but I think I'm over the age limit!" says Gunnery Sergeant Charlie Spanuolo of Lansing.

These veterans are part of a long lineage of freedom fighters, anchored by patriotism and pride.

"I'm fourth generation, my uncles were at Normandy," one veteran says.

Adds another: "My uncle was in the War of 1817 and my other uncle was in the Spanish American War."

This is the first year the annual Veterans' Day Parade has been held inside, where the decorated soldiers could sit in the warmth and enjoy the tribute.

"They're a unique breed of people," says Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. "They're people that put our country first, they put the good of the whole above their selfish interests and they are heroes-- each and every one of them."

Bernero called Saturday's event a success. Many of the soldiers present were WWII veterans-- a declining demographic. Bernero was happy to see so many of their faces.

"They've been called the greatest generation and I believe it. They knew what sacrifice was," Bernero says.

That sacrifice often goes unsung. So Saturday the message was one of thanks.

"It's our opportunity to wrap our arms around our veterans and say 'thank you,'" says Bernero.

And when people approach veterans on the street to thank them for their service?

"I'll start to cry," says veteran Spagnuolo. "But it's great."

Saying "thank you" is one of the sweetest sounds to these veterans' ears.


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