At this time, I’d like to take a minute to recognize a couple veterans standing here with us, and resting peacefully not far from here.
Dan Mann of Summerfield Nursery: longtime industry leader, nurseryman, horticulturist, Vietnam veteran.
Jerry Deyoung of Deyoung’s Landscape: Is very active with 4H and equestrian activities. He started his business in the ‘50s while concurrently serving in the Michigan National Guard. Jerry was mobilized during the riots of the 1960’s.
Kevin Collins of Gull Lake Landscape Co. : his father, a Vietnam veteran, is buried here at Ft. Custer.
Ken Murray of Murray’s Landscape: his grandfather, a WWII veteran, is buried here at Ft. Custer.
And our veteran guest of honor: 1st SGT Robert Roe, Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the 1st Squadron, 126th Cavalry Regiment. A friend of mine and fellow comrade in arms in the Michigan National Guard. 1SG Roe has recently returned home from a year long deployment to Iraq/Kuwait.
To our veterans that are present in life, to those present in spirit, and to those present in our hearts, I hereby dedicate this living memorial to you. For your service, for your sacrifice, for your dedication to duty, we humbly present you with a monument that will not sit here and collect dust. It will not allow algae to grow on it. It has no words scribbled that may fade through weathering over time. It will not look the same every time you see it. In its beauty it will represent our appreciation for all you have done. During periods of extreme weather conditions and stress, it will adapt and overcome, just as you have in your endeavor to serve your country.
While this is indeed Arbor Day and not Memorial Day, nor is it Veterans Day, it is important to understand what our servicemen and women have endured. Our veterans have been separated from their families for months at a time. Some have been separated on more than one occasion. They missed birthdays, anniversaries, graduation open houses, super bowl parties, trick or treating, fireworks, first words, first day of school, Thanksgiving dinner, a date at the movies, Sunday drives, opening Christmas presents, bedtime stories, and going to the florist on Valentines Day, to name a few things.
Sometimes their food was terrible, many times their pay was screwed up, they didn’t always know where they were going or what they were going to do, but they did it anyway. They got shot at, got sick, some got hurt, some got hurt badly, but they did it anyway. They may have been tired, they may have been dirty, they may have been extremely uncomfortable with all the protective gear they had to wear or the vehicle they had to ride in, but they did it anyway. Our veterans are true Americans. They may not have agreed with or understood what they were doing, but they did it anyway. They may never have seen the results of what they did. They may never have known how they impacted others. They may never understand if it was worth it or not. But, to quote Gov Granholm, “Sometimes you have to plant a tree, under whose shade you may never sit”. I think our veterans planted many trees under whose shade they never sat. And for this I thank them.
Given on Arbor Day 2009 at Ft. Custer National Cemetery in honor of Veterans, by Major Bruce Snyder 1-126th Cavalry Regiment/ Past President of Southwest Michigan Landscape Association/ Co-Owner of Gull Lake Landscape Co.
Tree Dedication Speech
Before I begin, let me take a moment to recognize the Veterans
who have joined us today. Let me also say that America is grateful to the veterans who volunteer their time to honor our fallen service men and women here at Ft. Custer.
For your devotion to America, I salute you.
We're gathered today to remember those who served, those who fought, those still missing, and those who gave their last full measure of devotion for our country. We're gathered at a living monument dedicated to all veterans. May the memory of their sacrifice live on in this tree. We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause. But beyond that, we remember today that all our gentle heroes of past and present wars have given us a lesson in something: a lesson in living love. For all of them, those who came back and those who did not, their love for their families lives on in this memorial tree. Their love for their buddies on the battlefields and friends back home lives. Their love of their country lives. This memorial will become a monument to that living love. The people who come to walk this pathway will see a love that endures. The messages they read on these granite memorials speak with a whispering voice that passes gently through the surrounding trees and out across this hallowed ground. Our liberties, our values, all for which America stands is safe today because brave men and women have been ready to face the fire at freedom's front. And we thank God for them.
In conclusion, I would like to say this to our veterans present today:
Our young friends -- yes, young friends, for in our hearts you will always be
young, full of the love that is youth, love of life, love of joy, love of
country -- you fought for your country and for its safety and for the freedom of
others with strength and courage. We love you for it. We honor you. And we have
faith that, you the living, are at peace with your contribution to our country. And to our fallen heroes buried here at Ft. Custer, MAY YOU REST IN PEACE.
Given on Arbor Day 2008 at Ft. Custer National Cemetery in honor of Veterans, by Major Bruce Snyder, 63rd BDE, Michigan National Guard/ President of Southwest Michigan Landscape Association/ Co-Owner of Mann’s Landscape Gardens, Inc.