On a sunny, Michigan morning against the backdrop of the blue waters of Lake St. Clair, old men and women dressed in military uniforms or wearing VFW baseball caps, Boy Scouts handing out American flags and paper poppies, children with their parents and hundreds of local residents lined the front lawn of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.
They gathered to hear Maj. Gen. Daniel Mitchell, commanding general of the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, deliver the keynote speech in honor of Memorial Day, 2019.
The event, which the Grosse Pointe War Memorial has hosted for several years, featured a rifle salute, a lone bagpiper, the tolling of the bell and the reading of the names of 169 Grosse Pointe residents who lost their lives in service to the country.
After a welcome by Charles Burke, president of the War Memorial, who recounted the service of his grandfather during World War II, Pastor Drew Van Culin of Grosse Pointe Memorial Church asked the audience to bow their heads in prayer.
The pastor prayed, "May our servicemen and -women know our hearts are raised to them."
Burke then introduced Mitchell and stated that it was an honor to have him address the group.
The general's speech, although familiar in part, resonated with the audience because he reminded them in a gentle yet firm way that Memorial Day is about the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Mitchell stated, "As we take this day to remember the fallen … to stand in solidarity with their loved ones and remember their sacrifice … and look back through our country's history to honor all those who gave their lives for our freedom and liberty … let us recommit ourselves to remind all Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day."
He continued, "We can do this in so many simple yet meaningful ways, such as visiting memorials or cemeteries and placing flags and flowers on the graves of those fallen service members."
The crowd understood, and they nodded in silent agreement.
Mitchell's remarks included the story of 1st Lt. Jimmie Monteith Jr. and Technician 5th Grade John Piner Jr., both Medal of Honor recipients, who were among the more than 2,000 soldiers who lost their lives on Omaha Beach on D-Day.
He ended his speech by thanking the Gold Star families and military veterans.
Aso speaking briefly at the event was Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.