- Associated Press - Monday, May 25, 2015

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - An ex-Navy SEAL who founded a national organization to help military and emergency service workers who have survived burns served as grand marshal of Dearborn’s Memorial Day parade as the Detroit suburb joined communities around Michigan in marking Monday’s holiday honoring America’s war dead.

Ryan “Birdman” Parrott started Dallas-based Sons of the Flag in 2012. His group’s website said he sustained first- and second-degree burns in an attack on his Humvee that left several team members with severe injuries.

Dearborn’s morning parade went on smoothly under mostly clear skies and temperatures in the low 70s Monday morning. From Marquette to Monroe, thousands of state residents observed the holiday with parades and memorial services. One event organizer said the efforts counter the tendency to treat Memorial Day as nothing more than the unofficial start of the summer recreation season.

“Memorial Day has lost a lot because it became about a three-day barbecue weekend, but that’s not what it’s about,” Floyd Carmichael, chairman of the Fort Custer National Cemetery Advisory Committee, told the Battle Creek Enquirer. “It’s about remembering those who gave their lives for this country so we can be here and have a program like this so they can go out and have their barbecues.”

Volunteers installed at least 30,000 American flags at the cemetery ahead of Sunday’s memorial service, attended by about 2,000 people. It’s located in Kalamazoo County’s Ross Township, about 15 miles east of Kalamazoo.

Vietnam Veterans of America held a ceremony at Resurrection Cemetery in Macomb County’s Clinton Township, following a Catholic Mass.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Saginaw as veterans from World War II, the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars walked or rode by.

The crowd was much smaller at Berle LaPin Veterans Memorial Park in Champion Township in upper Michigan’s Marquette County. Craig Salo, county veterans services officer, said it’s important for small Upper Peninsula towns to put on observances as well, the Mining Gazette of Marquette reported.

“There’s time, there’s resources that are always involved,” he said, applauding the local community “for continuing this tradition.”

In the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak, Mayor Jim Ellison stood on the sidewalk holding a folded American flag that had draped the coffin of his father, who survived his war experience and returned to start a family.

“Dad was one of those who did make it home,” Ellison told TV station WJBK. “We’re here to honor those that didn’t come back.”




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