HILLMAN - The Medilodge of Hillman honored 20 veterans on Tuesday during a flag and pinning ceremony while partnering with Hospice of Michigan. This was the first time a flag and pinning ceremony was held at the Hillman Medilodge, but for veterans from the Army, Air Force, Marines, and National Guard, it was a momentous day of recognition for their service.
"This has been a long time coming. These gentlemen and ladies need recognition, love and thanks for what they've done for us," Justin Moreau, Medilodge administrator, said. "We're here to care for them like they took care of us."
Moreau said Medilodge is thankful for its veterans every day, but wanted to do something special to recognize their dedicated service.
News Photo by Emily Siegmon
Dr. Michael Paletta pins William Cripps, thanking him for his service in the Army, and for the sacrifices that were made in willingness to serve our country.Veterans were also thanked for enduring hardships and risking their lives to maintain freedom. “On behalf of Hospice of Michigan and Medilodge of Hillman, please accept our thanks and our gratitude. When you see this pin, know that your service to our nation is deeply appreciated. We thank you,” said Paletta, who is vice president of medical affairs, chief medical officer, and executive director, MACQL, Hospice of Michigan.
"We have people who fought in all different wars including World War II, Korea and Vietnam. They deserve to be thanked and know how much we appreciate them," Moreau said.
Guest speakers from Hospice of Michigan spoke about the nation's history, American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guards with inspirational readings and gratitude.
"We can never fully repay our debt of gratitude to the more than 650,000 American service members who died in battle, or the 1.4 million who were wounded. We can, however, recognize and thank the 25 million Veterans still living today," Dottie Deremo, Hospice of Michigan president and CEO, said.
Present and recognized at the ceremony was 101-year-old Erwin Mertz, who served in World War II and is the oldest living veteran in Presque Isle. His wife Grace Mertz said the ceremony was a unique commemoration.
"This is really nice, I'm honored to see so many people come out to show their appreciation. I really appreciate this," Vietnam veteran Gary Wurtsmith said.
The ceremony liberated a variety of emotions, especially for Peter Purol Sr.'s family. Purol was recognized for his service in the Vietnam War, but quickly became emotional when receiving his pin. A few of his family members also felt similar emotions due to military services within their family,
"My husband is currently in Afghanistan, but he will be coming home next month," Ellie Carr said. "We come from a family with a long line of military history. It's important to us that veterans are not forgotten. We appreciate the Medilodge and everyone involved in honoring our veterans."
In order to honor veterans, the flag and pinning ceremony included the posting of colors by the Hillman VFW and then reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. A candle lighting also took place, where a red candle was lit to represent veterans' courage, a blue candle for faithfulness, and a white to keep the memory alive of those who died during service. The pinning ceremony was announced by Moreau, and the pinning was done by Dr. Michael Paletta, retired colonel and of Hospice of Michigan. Certificates of appreciation were given to each veteran.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5687.