Midland honors veterans at annual downtown ceremony

Local veterans, representatives speak at Wednesday event 

Posted Nov. 11, 2020 | By Mitchell Kukulka

Despite some chilly weather, a large — socially-distanced — crowd of Midlanders gathered downtown Wednesday to honor the community’s veterans.

The annual Veterans Day ceremony took place in front of the Midland County Veterans Memorial, near the Midland County Courthouse, Wednesday morning.

“This ceremony is a vital part of how we honor those who have served us so well, and have shown courage,” said Congressman John Moolenaar, R-Midland, who spoke at the ceremony. “What it also does is show the next generation that if they show courage, and if they defend liberty, we will also honor their service.”https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.426.0_en.html#goog_1935514285about:blankhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.426.0_en.html#goog_351403643https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.426.0_en.html#goog_525187217https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.426.0_en.html#goog_2074135715

The holiday is always observed at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — to commemorate the signing of the Armistice with Germany in 1918, which officially ended World War I.https://7b47d27cc1f8a0e8b7bcdffa0157f2ad.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Steve Tracy, a former sergeant major in the National Guard, served as master of ceremonies for the annual event.

Among the crowd at the ceremony were Bob Taylor, Leonard Varner and Bob Moe — all veterans of World War II, and all over the age of 95.

During the short ceremony, Lt. Colonel Greg Abner, a retired Iraqi War veteran, served as keynote speaker.

Abner was invited to speak by Joe DuFort, a Vietnam War veteran and the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Chemical City Post No. 3651 in Midland. The two men first met years ago when Abner traveled to Ann Arbor for a back surgery. After being prepped for operation, the doctor informed Abner that the procedure would have to be postponed due to a mistake in preparing the equipment.

Coincidentally, DuFort was also at the hospital for a less urgent operation, and offered to trade appointment spots with Abner, despite not even knowing him at the time.

Brought together by a random act of kindness and kept together by their shared experiences in the military, the two men have been friends ever since.

“We had bonded, through our service, and through our brotherhood — that’s Veterans Day to me,” Abner said.

Sen. Jim Stamas and state Representative Annette Glenn, both of Midland, also spoke at the ceremony, offering their gratitude to the men and women of Midland County who have served.