Spring clean up: OCBA Vets Committee adds luster to 'stones

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Offering a royal salute for a job well done, volunteers with the OCBA Veterans Committee spiffed up the headstones at the Great Lakes National Cemetery on April 27.

Photo courtesy of Veterans Committee

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

In what has become a rite of spring, members of the Oakland County Bar Association’s Veterans Committee paid an annual visit to Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly on April 27 to scrub the headstones of departed military veterans.

“The annual event is most important to us as one of our own committee members, Jerry Gorcyca, is interred at the cemetery,” said Mike Schloff, a Vietnam vet and a past president of the OCBA.

Among those who joined Schloff for the clean up project were Committee Chairman Bill Lynch, Elias Escobedo, Jay Cunningham, retired Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Fred Mester, Jim Zellen, Peter Conway, Tess Shafer, and Tom Kemper.

“With a bucket of water in hand, the OCBA Veterans Committee was faced with a new mission,” said Jim Zellen. “Many were called, but few were chosen. In front of us lay a sea of ivory white marble cascading the rolling terrain at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly. Names, rank, and military branch were artfully inscribed onto every stone. Each one had its own story. World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm were represented.

“We could only imagine what suffering and sacrifices that many of them endured,” Zellen stated. “As we silently read off their names and washed their final resting place, we thanked them for their service. We saluted them for our freedom and prayed for their eternal rest. These were American heroes, regardless of race, creed, and color. God bless them and God bless America,” Zellen said in reflecting upon their sacrifices.

According to Schloff, over the past decade “this committee of military veteran lawyers has been involved in significant activities” throughout the community, including staffing the Oakland County Veterans Treatment Courts in Novi, Waterford, Oak Park, and the Circuit Court.

The group, said Schloff, also has provided pro bono legal representation to countless veterans in both civil and criminal cases, while also “supporting our troops overseas with gift boxes through Americans Thank Our Troops.” Committee members, Schloff added, also have taken pride in “supporting homeless military veterans at Vets Returning Home in Roseville, speaking in our schools, participating in Veterans Day ceremonies, and giving speeches at community events.”

Such good works, it would appear, may be divinely inspired, committee member Zellen reflected.

“As we concluded our reverent task, two bald eagles soared overhead,” Zellen said. “A wisp of cloud and they appeared to touch the hand of God. This was a parting tribute to our American heroes.”

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