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Column: Honor those who served this Memorial Day

ESCANABA — Roasted marshmallows, bonfires, freshly cut lawns and colorful flowers are just a few of the signs that summer is here in the Upper Peninsula.

Memorial Day weekend is thought of by many as the unofficial start to summer. But as we all know and hear often, Memorial Day is about so much more than grilling and gatherings.

A quick Google search will tell you that Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, particularly those who died in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  We spend time remembering those who could not come home, reflecting on their service and why we have the freedom and opportunities that we enjoy today.

I feel so thankful that because of the commitment and dedication of so many, the Multi-Use complex at the UP State Fairgrounds will be a place to honor those such individuals and others, year round.

The UP Military Museum home of the Honor Flight Legacy, developed under the direction of Curator Ann Jousma Miller, is the perfect way for visitors to take a step back in time and learn about how the Upper Peninsula has made significant contributions and sacrifices to war efforts over the years. The exhibits and displays include information about Upper Peninsula residents who fought and made contributions to all major wars and showcases one of a kind artifacts donated by U.P. Veterans and their families.

Visitors to the museum leave in awe, full of emotion and gratitude and it is truly an honor to be a part of something so special.

In addition to this exceptional exhibit, we are also proud to house one of kind military cut outs in our visitor’s center to draw attention to the importance of honoring our military on holidays such as Memorial Day. Like many projects in the UP, the military cut out project was one of collaboration. An idea developed by Escanaba resident and military mom, April Guindon, came to fruition though the help of many willing participants, including: Elks Lodge, Allo Coolman Funeral Home, Crawford Funeral Home, Mr. Bike and Ski, Mo’s Pub, VFW Post 2998, Michigan National Guard, Dominos, Ever After Decorating, Pam’s Petals, Fredrick Family Chiropractic, Jaylene Brown, Darci Griebel, Vic Thompson, Cathy Uhazie and Escanaba High School wood shop and art students.

So, on this Memorial Day Weekend I encourage you to take it all in, the sights and smells of summer, time with friends and loved ones and some quiet reflection for the sacrifices made by so many that have helped pave the way for us all to spend another beautiful summer in God’s Country. Then, after the long weekend, I encourage you to take some time to come in and see the beautiful exhibits that have been created through countless hours, extreme dedication, and generous donations from so many individuals and businesses in our waterfront community.

The UP Military Museum, home of the Honor Flight Legacy will “officially” open on July 1st during the Delta County Chamber Centennial Celebration. But in the meantime, visitors are welcome during normal business hours, Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:00pm. Additional hours will be available during summer and special events. Guided tours are available upon request with advance notice.

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Sheila Krueger is associate director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce

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