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Navy veteran speaks at Southside service

(Naval Petty Officer First Class Jim Anderson at the Pontiac Memorial Day service Monday)

A Navy veteran who served during the latter part of the Vietnam War and Cold War eras addressed Pontiac’s annual Memorial Day Service at Southside Cemetery Monday morning.

“We are here today to remember Americans killed in battle,” said Naval Petty Officer First Class Jim Anderson.

Anderson served on three East Coast Gearing class destroyers and later as a Navy recruiter in the Detroit metro area. After his stint in the Navy, Anderson began a 30-year career at Pontiac Caterpillar, retiring in 2011 as a Production Machinist. He then went to work at ISU for five years as a building mechanic, retiring in 2019.

According to Anderson, we should be eternally grateful that members of the military would come from all walks of life.

“They were called to be a part of something larger than themselves,” he added.

The history of the holiday was shared by Anderson, who stated the idea of Memorial Day rose from the Civil War when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate graves of soldiers. In 1966, President Johnson and Congress declared the birthplace of what was formerly known as Decoration Day was Waterloo, New York.

By the end of the 19th century, ceremonies were held nationwide on May 30. The name Memorial Day became more commonly used following World War II.

Originally from Ottawa and members of the Pontiac community since 1981, Anderson and his wife of 46 years, Denise, have two adult sons who were raised in Pontiac and a granddaughter.

Father Joe Baker of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Pontiac gave the invocation and benediction, saying we remember all of those who served in the Armed Forces. Father Baker presented a moment of silence to honor those who offered their lives for our freedom.

Mick Peterson served as emcee for Monday’s ceremony. His father joined the Marines in 1943 and found himself on Iwo Jima right away then Okinawa.

“He never spoke of his Marine days, other than telling my sister, ‘Why should I tell you the terrible things I saw?’”

Peterson said we are here today honoring those willing to give the ultimate sacrifice of their lives so we could enjoy the freedoms we have today.

The local Scout troop led the Pledge of Allegiance while vocal performances were given by Lindsey Studnicki and music from the joins bands of Pontiac Township High School and the Pontiac Municipal Band under the direction of Scot Schickel.

Honorary Mother Carolyn Ledford laid the wreath, escorted by Norma Studebaker. American Legion Commander Steve Worthington recited Flanders Field and Chris Sailor, American Legion Commander, gave America’s Response to Flanders Field.

AMVETS Commander Terry Noorgard gave the POW prayer, honoring all of those POW/MIA’s of our country.

The combined color guards of the VFW, AMVETS and American Legion gave a 21-gun salute which was followed by Taps.

Following the cemetery service, the annual Flower Ceremony took place at the Mill Street Bridge in Pontiac where flowers were tossed into the water by members of the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary, symbolizing the sailors who lost their lives at sea during combat.

(Honorary Mother Carolyn Ledford, right, lays the wreath escorted by Norma Studebaker)



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