Memorial Day reflections and events
Posted on 05/23/2024
Mayor Brian Turnbull

Northvillians and friends,

During my childhood, the remembrance ceremony at Rural Hill Cemetery embodied what Memorial Day weekend was all about for our family…. My mother was born on Armistice Day, the day WWI ended. As a young adult, she was a “Rosie the Riveter” at the Willow Run B24 Liberator Bomber plant in Ypsilanti, which was part of the Arsenal of Democracy. My father was in WWII, he was a proud marine (is there any other kind?). Sacrifice for this country that we all love has always been a part of our family’s DNA going on five generations in Northville.

A little background on our two veteran holidays – Veterans Day salutes and gives homage to all vets in this country, whereas Memorial Day is specifically set aside to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Lloyd Green, who served in WWI, is one of those individuals. His final resting place is in the center of the Veterans Memorial area at Rural Hill (our version of the Arlington National Cemetery) and our American Legion is named in his honor.

In Rural Hill we have 634 veterans, ranging from those who served in the War of 1812 to modern era conflicts. In Oakwood Cemetery, there are even Revolutionary War and many Civil War vets.

Memorial Day gathering at Rural Hill – This was a reverent part of the weekend for our family. Growing up, I played in the Marching Band and had the honor of performing “Taps.” As many of you have seen over the years, recognition of our veterans has truly been important to our community. My father would spend time at the Veterans Memorial area reminiscing about his friends that weren’t as lucky as he to return to Northville after the wars. Many of the names on the markers were close family friends.

Communities (like ours) throughout the country will similarly hold parades and will have solemn ceremonies. Accordingly, we will gather Monday 5/27 at 10 a.m. for a parade heading down Cady St. from Griswold, stopping briefly at Oakwood Cemetery for a 21-gun salute, and then end at Rural Hill (7 Mile & Rogers) at 11 a.m. for a short remembrance ceremony. I invite you all to Rural Hill. As many of you have seen over the years, recognition of our veterans has been an important tradition for our community.

Memorial Day
The tradition of Memorial Day dates back to 1868, shortly after the Civil War when it was named Decoration Day (because it was a day to decorate the graves of loved ones we lost in the Civil War). In 1968, Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May, giving us a treasured three-day weekend and a well-deserved time to commemorate all American military personnel.

Some people wear a red poppy in remembrance of our fallen soldiers, a tradition that began with a WWI poem. At the gathering at Rural Hill, we will pay homage to our brave men and women who have defended the ideals of this country.

What’s going on today

• Orin Rocks Block Party – 5/25, 6-10 p.m. – Music and entertainment downtown for the whole family! Link

• Memorial Day Parade – 5/27, 10AM – Route begins at Griswold and ends with service at Rural Hill Cemetery. Link

• Music in downtown Northville from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Look for Friday small band gatherings and Saturday large group performances.

• The Northville Winery on Baseline Road has posted their summer concert schedule, and I invite you to experience their exciting atmosphere next to the Cider Mill. Link

• The Great White Buffalo Brewing Company has weekly music guests on Main and Center through the summer, too. Link

• Convertibles are needed to transport dignitaries in our Memorial Day and July 4th Parades - if you have one to share that you can drive in the parade, please contact me.

Other Historic Memorial Day activities in Northville

1868 – On Decoration Day, Northvillians joined in the nationwide tradition of gathering and remembering Civil War Veterans and decorating their final resting places.

1918 – The Northville Record published a story on Northvillian Lloyd Green, who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms in WWI. His final resting place is in the center of Rural Hill’s Veterans Memorial Gardens. Our American Legion Post is named in his honor.

1952 – Rural Hill Military Memorial Section was established 72 years ago in this historic burial ground built in the 1800’s.

2017 – The banner program, sponsored by the Northville Chamber of Commerce, is an outstanding remembrance of those who served proudly to defend our freedoms. Slow down as you stroll around town and take note of the names and faces on each of the 250 banners.

VFW POST and AMERICAN LEGION – We are truly indebted to the entire VFW Post for their dedication in organizing the annual Memorial Day event and working in coordination with the American Legion, which assists with the parade activities. Additionally, I thank all the volunteers, including the Scouts, for placing flags on all our veterans’ grave sites each year and for the maintenance they provide for the veterans’ portion of Rural Hill Cemetery.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank all our veterans and especially their families for their courage and dedication. I thank each and every veteran for all you have done for the freedoms we take for granted daily. We’re all standing on the shoulders of those that have come before us, and it’s our responsibility to keep their stories and memories alive in our hearts. I encourage all of you to slow down and thank a veteran for those freedoms we cherish in our nation.

Enjoy your upcoming Memorial Day weekend and let’s continue to spread hope for a better tomorrow.

Keep that Northville Memorial Day Faith!

Brian Turnbull
Mayor, city of Northville

VFW, American Legion, veterans, gravesite