New Memorial to Honor East Lansing Military Veterans

Friday, November 3, 2017, 7:26 am
By: 
Evan Dempsey

Above: The existing memorial honoring Lt. Skinner at Hannah Community Center.

Frequent visitors to the Hannah Community Center will be familiar with the two marble slabs honoring Congressional Medal of Honor recipient 2nd Lt. Sherrod E. Skinner, who came from East Lansing and was killed in the Korean War. On Monday, November 6, that memorial will be joined by another, this one honoring all veterans in the East Lansing community, as well as East Lansing residents who have sacrificed their lives in military service.

The monuments will be situated in a paved area with new landscaping and benches. Tim McCaffrey, Director of East Lansing’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Arts, is among those excited about the installation of the new monument.

“The opportunity to honor the service of all those from the East Lansing community that served, including and especially those that have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms and the way of life that we have in the United States, [is] pretty awesome, in my mind,” McCaffrey told ELi.

Several members of McCaffrey’s family serve or have served in the United States military, so the importance of recognizing veterans’ service is not lost on him. “My father…served in the United States Army and he’s a Korean War veteran,” McCaffrey said. “I have a brother that served in the United States Army, and I have a sister whose daughter’s spouse serves.”

For those interested in learning more about East Lansing residents’ military service, McCaffrey suggests a visit to the Hannah Community Center.

“When you walk into the main lobby and you take a right, you can see a number of…military displays, that feature members of the East Lansing community,” McCaffrey said.

The displays include information about East Lansing residents who have served as well as artifacts like newspaper clippings featuring articles covering the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They can be found almost directly on the other side of the Community Center doors from the new monument.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the dedication ceremony, which will take place Monday, November 6, at 1 p.m. outside the Hannah Community Center. The ceremony will include a keynote speech by Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais, the Adjutant General and Director of Military and Veterans Affairs of Michigan, who commands the Michigan Army and Air National Guard.

Additional speeches will be made by East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows, East Lansing Rotary Club President Ody Norkin, and 101st Airborne Division Veteran Ron Springer, who served in the Vietnam War.

Springer’s work in promoting veterans’ affairs in the East Lansing area has been lauded by many, including McCaffrey. “He works tirelessly in the community to try to see what type of acknowledgment and recognition we can provide to members of the East Lansing community that have served, past and present,” said McCaffrey of Springer.

As a result of efforts like Springer’s by community members and the City, McCaffrey believes that veterans living in East Lansing generally feel positive about the opportunities available in the community. Groups like the East Lansing Rotary Club, who raised funds for the monument jointly with the City, have been instrumental in honoring East Lansing veterans as well.

“We are excited to, once again, partner with the City of East Lansing in raising funds to complete this meaningful project,” says Kristin Shelley, the Rotary Club’s Community Service Committee Chair. The City and Rotary Club have made it clear that donations to cover the cost of the monument are still being accepted.

“Project donations will help us pay tribute to all of the local heroes who have served our country in times of war and peace,” Shelley says. The City hopes to raise $25,000 for the Veterans Monument project. Those interested in making a donation can visit this link, or contact Jane Stone at (517) 319-6809 or jstone@cityofeastlansing.com.