Posted Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019
Article submitted by Michigan Memorial Park
An eternal flame will be dedicated and permanently lit in honor of United States veterans at a public outdoor ceremony at Michigan Memorial Park on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
Located near the front entrance of MMP in the Veterans Bowl, the flame will provide a prominent and solemn reminder of those who have served our nation throughout our history.
While most people are familiar with the eternal flame dedicated to John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, this will be the only one in an independently operated cemetery in Michigan.
The ceremony will include a keynote address by Colonel Jack Lechner (Ret), former executive officer and deputy superintendent of Arlington. Col. Lechner came to Arlington from the Joint Staff, Pentagon, where he was responsible for logistical support to deployed forces and Joint Supply Chain Architecture (JSCA). Prior to his arrival on the Joint Staff, he was the Chief of Staff for the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) headquartered in Balad, Iraq. This 650 Soldier headquarters and its seven brigades of 20,000 Soldiers were responsible for all logistical support in the Iraqi theater of war.
During Col. Lechner’s leadership, Arlington National Cemetery was restored to its rightful position of honor as a national shrine. Automated systems were developed for scheduling/record keeping, a geospatial mapping system was created to assign and track grave/niche assignments, and the most stringent chain of custody system in the federal system of cemeteries was established to ensure every family received peace of mind about the grounds where their loved one had been laid to rest. An award-winning application was developed that provided families and 3.1 million tourists per year with the ability to find any grave or tour the cemetery using a smart phone. Col. Lechner also recognized the need for a bereavement skills training program to ensure all staff members were able to provide world class service, in a compassionate and caring manner, earned by our nation’s heroes and their families.
When Col. Lechner departed Arlington National Cemetery the $71.8 million Millennium Project (adding 27 acres and 27,282 interment/inurnment opportunities) was on budget and on time to be completed in June 2016. The $247 million Southern Expansion Project was well underway, and the Army had taken possession of approximately 40 contiguous acres to the south with the project’s $70.8 million annual budget being executed as planned.
The Downriver Honor Guard will also participate in the ceremony as well as active duty representatives from the United States Armed Forces including Staff Sergeant Jared Ferguson, United States Army; Sergeant Spencer Jackson, United States Marine Corps; Petty Officer Tatiana Fragoso, United States Navy; and Sergeant Casey Williams, United States Air Force.
Well known vocalist Jill Ryan of Grosse Ile will sing the National Anthem. Dan Dwyer, president of Michigan Memorial Funeral Home, will emcee the dedication.
Following the lighting ceremony, the public is invited to attend an informal reception which will include refreshments.
Kelly Dwyer, president of MMP stated, “It is our sincere hope that downriver and Monroe County veterans will attend as we approach Veterans Day. We are humbled to install this monument in their honor.”
Guided parking will be available for guests as well as golf cart transport if needed.
For further information, please contact MMP at 734-782-2473 or visit their Facebook page.
The park’s address is 30895 W Huron River Drive.