Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorial Day in Grand Rapids

The weather for celebrating the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country ended the way it began: warm but low-humidity, clear blue sky with sun all day. A perfect day to be with family out at Clear Lake.

But since we weren't scheduled to gather until about two in the afternoon that gave me an opportunity to pay my respects to a few of the men from the 3rd Michigan Infantry who served in the Union army during the Civil War but didn't live to see the end of that conflict. So, about 10 in the morning I drove into downtown Grand Rapids to Fulton Cemetery. At the time of the war this was the city cemetery and the scene of much anguish among the citizens during the war. I stopped by to say hello to
  • Captain Samuel Judd, whose body was brought home after he was killed at Fair Oaks, Virginia, on May 31, 1862; 
  • Major Peter Weber who fell at Falling Waters, Maryland on July 14, 1863; 
  • regimental Chaplain Francis Cuming, who at age 64 was the oldest man in the regiment; he became sick early in the war, returned home but never recovered and he died in the city on August 26, 1862; 
  • Brigadier General Stephen Champlin, Kent County; prosecuting attorney before the war and former colonel of the Old 3rd he was at his home in Grand Rapids when he succumbed to wounds on January 20 1864.
Located just a few feet from each other are Weber, Judd and Champlin at the top of the hill:



In subsequent years many of their former comrades would join them in these few acres at the corner of Eastern and Fulton streets.

A little after 1pm five of us squeezed into our car -- Bernice, Susie, her sister Joyce and Joyce's friend Avery -- and headed off to Woodlawn Cemetery to pay our respects to my father-in-law Tunis VandenBerg's and Van Halsema family members who have passed on: we first stopped at Tunis's grave right near the 7th green of Indian Trails golf course and then walked the few meters to the Van Halsema graves (Susie's grandparents Emo and Nellie, her uncles Dick and Gerard and cousin David and his daughter Dana). It was grand to see so many people out decorating graves of loved ones, and to see so many flowers on gravesites.

From Woodlawn we made our way to Route 131 north and Clear Lake. It was, I said before it bears repeating, an absolutely beautiful day to be alive and out at the Lake. Lots of faces new and old, and of course plenty of warm conversation and delicious food.



Joyce and Susie (that's Scott's mother Gwen on the right)

Maria contemplating the food

Uncle John and two of the Palma sisters

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