TRAVERSE CITY — Representatives of the Veterans Coalition of Grand Traverse County, Patriot Guard Riders and others who came out to show their support for America’s veterans and servicemen and women formed a Veterans Day Flag Line along Grandview Parkway today, waving as drivers passing by honked, waved and gave the thumb’s up, and saluting as a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew over the display. Nearby at the Open Space, the Veterans for Peace northern Michigan chapter hosted its annual Veterans Day Memorial honoring those who have fallen.
Rick Cardwell, captain of Patriot Guard Riders Michigan Area 9, who described himself as "not a vet, but a PAC (Patriotic American Citizen), said it was the third year for the Veterans Day flag line. He said the groups often serve as honor guards for funerals, and that they considered today's event a celebration of veterans and America's men and women in the military.
"Because we do so many veterans' funerals, those are sad times, when we've lost a brother or sister," Cardwell said. "It's not somebody else's kid, its ours.
"We stand in our flag lines and it doesn't matter what kind of weather. We look at it as these boys and girls who are fighting for us today, they're standing out in 110 degrees, and looking back in Vietnam, fighting in the rice paddies, the rain and heat and mosquitoes -- you name it. So this is a minor thing for us to come and do these types of things."
Among those lining the road was Victoria Schneider of Interlochen. It was her first time standing as part of a flag line, and she was glad she had come.
"Every time someone waves or honks, it's like a pump of blood going through me," she said. "This for me is the same as 9-11, when people had their flags. These honks are the same thing."