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Posted: 11/14/12

Above, as the flag waves in the wind, Romeo VFW Commander Leonard Monfils addresses people gathered on Veterans Day at Romeo Cemetery. Below, Romeo High School students Ryan Michal and Megan Fruchey play "Taps" for the 2012 Veterans Day ceremony at the cemetery Sunday.

(Observer photos by Marianne Weiss)

Veterans Day event warms the
hearts of local patriots

Observer Special Writer
      In the sunny, unusually warm November weather last Sunday, a patriotic crowd made its way to the Romeo Cemetery for the 2012 Veterans Day ceremony. Commander of the Romeo VFW Leonard Monfils started the solemn event by greeting everyone and introducing Audrey Brown, who sang the "National Anthem."
       "Today we are honoring American veterans from all wars," said Monfils, who served in the Army during the Korean War. "This day is dedicated to the cause of liberty."
       One veteran in a group standing by was 85-year-old Sol James from Romeo. He has been an active member of the local VFW.
       "I like the company and meeting people at the post," he said. "I was a combat engineer in World War II, served in Japan after the bombing, then again in Korea."
       Cyriel DeMeulenaere from Washington Township brought his wife, Helen, to the ceremony.
       "I served in Company D, 35th Infantry, 25th Division during World War II in Japan for 10 months," said Cyriel, who said some of the work he did was driving trucks and he said he did a lot of guard duty. "We did a lot of different things, whatever we were told."
       "I'm here today to remember my brother Robert DeMeulenaere who was killed in December 1944. He was only 23," said Cyriel. "We lost our two cousins as well in the Battle of the Bulge."
       His wife was glad to attend with her husband.
       "It's good to be here today. In America there is a lot to be thankful for," she said.
       The crowd stood silent during the 21 gun salute, fired by veterans Derrik Miller from Armada and Lonnie Zemke from Romeo. A Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) student, 15-year-old Jonathan Fenton from Casco, also fired a rifle to honor the veterans alongside the adults.
       Veteran Frank Hatton from Romeo was proud his grandson Jonathan participated.
       "We are happy to have this beautiful day to honor veterans," said Hatton, who served in Vietnam. "It's good to see such a great turnout."
       Hatton was named the post's Officer of the Day.
       Romeo High school students Ryan Michal and Megan Fruchey played an echoing version of "Taps" on their trumpets as people held their hands over their hearts. Securing the VFW Post flag was Veteran Don Schaefer who served in the Navy Air Division in Korea.
       "We worked on the engines of the planes, I was a flight engineer," said Schaefer, who lives in the Village of Romeo.
       Bettie Lester, the Romeo VFW Ladies Auxiliary chaplain, prayed, "I have a prayer for the deceased veterans. O God by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, look kindly on our departed veterans who gave their lives in the service of their country," she said. "Grant that through your Son, they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom."
       Heads were bowed as she prayed.
       Closing the ceremony, Commander Monfils invited everyone over to the VFW hall for lunch following the ceremony. A part of the last prayer was from the Men's Auxiliary Chaplain Harold Trombley.
       "We pray for a world in which nations may resolve their differences by reasonable means . . . and live in every land with the enduring light of wisdom, so that we may form a brotherhood of people which will strive to further the art of peace," he said, ending the event to honor veterans this year in Romeo.

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