St. Sabina Catholic Church Father Raymond Bucon, chaplain for the city's police and fire departments, in delivering the invocation for the ceremony, expressed appreciation beforehand for the one percent of the population spotlighted that day, the people who serve in the armed forces, whom he called “true national treasurers. Though Veterans Day is mainly intended to pay tribute to the living veteran, Bucon continued, he pointed out that at exactly 11 a.m. in Washington D.C., there would be a gathering at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In delivering the keynote address for the ceremony, Polish Legion of American Veterans Post 16 Past Cmdr. Ed Florence paid tribute to the veterans by saying it would be difficult to know what the United States would be today if it was not “blessed for generations” in having people in its midst who were willing to defend their country.
“If they had not answered their nation's call, the world would be a very different place,” Florence said. “They embody everything that made this country great.
“Thomas Paine recognized this when he said 'THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.' Veterans Day gives us the opportunity to give thanks,” Florence said.
The thanks required of everyone, he said, was their commitment to preserve the very principles for which the veterans fought for. Florence added that the helping hand that veterans need is support and understanding, but “not in eulogies alone,” but meeting the needs of the homeless veteran, the hospitalized veteran or the elderly veteran; “just as they helped our country when she desperately needed their service.”
In introducing Florence, Mayor Daniel S. Paletko joked that he thought the Detroit Red Wings' Karen Newman “should be careful” after Crestwood High School junior Reyan Khanji's just concluded rendition of the National Anthem. He then presented two thoughts of more serious vein, beginning with recalling his former Crestwood High School classmate Glenn Helka, one of three which in their class who never came back from Vietnam. With his name placed on an honor plaque in the city's memorial, Paletko said, Helka represents all veterans who served all over the world.
His other point was to recall his encounter with people who had come to this country from regions like the Middle East and southeast Europe. They had spoken about what great opportunity their new country offered, some who could not practice their religion in their former home and appreciated the freedom in America to do it, “and they were proud to become citizens.” Paletko concluded that those who sacrificed their lives protecting this freedom should “never, never be forgotten.”
The ceremony was concluded by the Dearborn Heights Police Department Honor Guard's 21-gun salute, and “Taps” played by Dearborn Heights Police Sgt. Ed Garcia. A luncheon was hosted for ceremony attendees afterward at the Caroline Kennedy Library.