2008-05-31 / Top News

Island Veterans Honor Fallen Brothers in Arms

By Caitlyn Kienitz

Shirley Horn and Patricia LaPine, daughters of Susan and Levi LaPine, present flowers to honor the parents of those who have served in the armed forces. Shirley Horn and Patricia LaPine, daughters of Susan and Levi LaPine, present flowers to honor the parents of those who have served in the armed forces. There was standing room only at Veterans Memorial Park as members of American Legion Post 299 led a Memorial Day ceremony to honor Mackinac Island soldiers and their families Monday, May 26.

Under a cool and persistent mist, Paul Wandrie, commander of Post 299, said that it's unfortunate that many Americans do not understand the true meaning of Memorial Day.

"For the members of the armed forces and our veterans, we know it is the day that we remember our fallen comrades, those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that our great country could remain free," he said. "For personnel that have never served, it's a day off from work or school, a day at the beach or

having a barbecue. I wish more people in our country understood the true meaning of this holiday, but my service and yours have allowed these people to enjoy this holiday in their own way."

The service opened with a reading of the names of surviving World War II veterans by Armand "Smi" Horn, who served as master of ceremonies for the service. The reading was followed by the national anthem sung by Mary McGuire Slevin and the Pledge of Allegiance led by members of Girl Scout Troop 127.

Members of the color guard of American Legion Post 299 stand at attention as the colors of the William Alvin Beloungea Post 316 are presented. The colors of the former Mackinac Island post were returned to the Island during a May 26 Memorial Day service. Members of the color guard of American Legion Post 299 stand at attention as the colors of the William Alvin Beloungea Post 316 are presented. The colors of the former Mackinac Island post were returned to the Island during a May 26 Memorial Day service. The opening prayer was given by Robert Spitzer of the Congregation of the Great Turtle. In his remarks, he remembered his late grandfather, who fought in World War I and became a prisoner in a concentration camp during World War II.

"People who have served their country, and serve their country today, and will die for their country, have done so because of the principles of their country," said Dr. Spitzer. "When my late grandfather came to this country as a refugee, he was immensely proud that he had come to the land of the free and a land where we stand for very high principles at all times."

Dr. Spitzer read three excerpts from a memorial prayer in Hebrew and in English translation.

During the ceremony, Mr. Wandrie recognized the parents of those who have served in the armed forces, as well as the family of retired Gunnery Sergeant Delbert Bunker of the United States Marine Corps. Mr. Bunker has played a major role in the building of Veterans Memorial Park, including a bench placed in honor of his parents, Milton and Angeline Bunker, and a water fountain placed in honor and memory of his brothers. He was unable to attend Monday's ceremony, but sent flowers that his brother, Carl, placed at their parents' memorial.

Flowers were also placed in honor of Susan and Levi LaPine, whose oldest child, Wilson LaPine, served in World War II. The flowers were presented by two of their children, Shirley Horn and Patricia LaPine.

The memorial service also gave Post 299 an opportunity to recognize a former American Legion post once located on Mackinac Island.

The William Alvin Beloungea Post 316 was founded in May 1921 by World War I veterans, received its charter in 1922, and ended in November 1933. American Legion posts are named after deceased members of the armed forces, and because Mackinac Island did not have a member killed in action during World War I, current post members did some research to learn more about Post 316's namesake.

William Alvin Beloungea was a sergeant who fought in France during World War I. Sgt. Beloungea, who was originally of Gould City in Mackinac County, was killed in action in 1918. He received the Dis- tinguished Service Cross for his efforts in action July 31, 1918. Along with another soldier, Sgt. Beloungea dragged a wounded comrade a distance of 150 yards back to their trench, through an intense barrage of machine gun and artillery fire.

"He was a most appropriate man to have an American Legion post named after," said Mr. Wandrie.

The current post purchased a flag representing Post 316 with the help of donations from Delbert Bunker and a grant from the Mackinac Island Community Foundation. Foundation trustee Lorna Strauss said she hoped people would also take time to remember those soldiers who came home "less than 100%."

"Many of the ones who return have suffered significantly grievous injury and harm," she said. "I think all of us have to remember that they, too, deserve our admiration, our respect, our love, our concern, and our care."

The sacrifices made by the members of the armed forces, as well as their families and loved ones, were placed at the forefront of the ceremony. Through the reading of a poem and her own remarks, Mayor Margaret Doud reminded all those in attendance that freedom has a price.

"Today as we gather in this special place, on this beautiful Island that we live on, we remember all of the men and women who served with dignity for Mackinac Island and across this great land of ours," Mayor Doud said. "We live in a world of unrest, and each of us, each day, should pray for the men and women in harm's way, for their safe return, because we always have to remember: Freedom is not free."

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