To the Editor:

On November 14, the Ford Motor Co., through its Ford Veterans Network Group, is commemorating Veterans Day with a program at its headquarters in Dearborn.

One of the special events that morning is the presentation of the Governor's Volunteer Award to Barbara Grasso for her initiative: Americans Thank Our Troops/Operation Afghanistan/Iraq PAC. Barbara and her family were supposed to receive the award in Grand Rapids from the Governor this summer, but because of unforeseen circumstances, they were forced to miss the event. Due to their absence, I was asked to have the honor of standing in for her, which I did.

Barbara and her family did not have anyone in uniform, but she did have a friend who had a son in one of the theaters of operation in the Middle East. Barbara began sending ''care'' packages to her friend's son and then to others in his unit. She then helped build a volunteer group of nearly 500, with nearly 60 separate organizations joining in partnership of fund-raising, collecting, packaging and sending care packages to thousands of our young people in uniform in the Middle East. Among the organizations demonstrating support has been the Oakland County Bar Association and its Veterans Committee through the leadership of its then OCBA president and charter chairman of its Veterans Committee, Michael Schloff, with an annual budget of nearly $55,000 since 2004.

The significance of Mrs. Grasso receiving this award around Veterans Day is that it symbolizes the necessary partnership of the individual citizen and the serviceman and woman, who wear the uniform of the United States of America as they go into harm's way in the defense of liberty. We rarely acknowledge this critical relationship, yet it has been present in all our wars, i.e. Rosie the Riveter, Scouts collecting papers, etc., all for the purpose of being at one with our soldiers in the field.

We, as individual citizens, who live in this great nation and enjoy the fruits of freedom, have a continuing responsibility to each other and to the American way. Accordingly, we are grateful to Dan Duderstadt of Ford Motor Co. for planning the special program at the company's headquarters in Dearborn. Dan also leads the Ford Veterans Network Group and is the chairperson for Americans Thank Our Troops/ Operation Afghanistan/Iraq PAC.

Fred Mester

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge (Ret.)

Published: Fri, Nov 1, 2013