The city of East Lansing celebrated Memorial Day on Thursday with a wreath laying ceremony to honor veterans and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve 2nd Lt. Sherrod Skinner Jr.
“Memorial day is the much more somber affair,” said East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas. "Where we recognize people who have paid the ultimate price and lost their lives in service to this country.”
Skinner was born in Connecticut in 1929 but moved to East Lansing in the 1940s.
“He was taking collection at Peoples Church, the large church, in downtown East Lansing,” said Vietnam veteran Ron Springer.
Skinner made mistakes every once in a while.
“He dropped the communion plate and it bounced and all the coins were hitting the steps and everyone looked up at him and he was blushing,” said Springer. “10 years later, hes a Marine lieutenant and he’s in Korea.”
He wasn't in North Korea long, but he died a hero.
“His men were dying, they’re wounded, he kept consolidating them into a bunker where they could hopefully get relief," Springer said. “Unfortunately, North Korea threw a hand grenade in the bunker and Lt. Skinner jumped on the grenade to protect his men, giving his life.”
Skinner was one of 25 marines given the Medal of Honor in 1953. Sixty-eight years later, he was honored in East Lansing with a wreath ceremony for memorial day.
“Due to the efforts of Tim McCaffery, the Rotary Club, they built these monuments, dedicated them and very rightfully so for the Medal of Honor recipient Sherrod Skinner and another one for all veterans,” Springer said.
Springer served in the 101st Vietnam airborne division.
“I was the luckiest guy in the world having gone to Vietnam in an infantry unit and coming home without a scratch,” he said.
He said Memorial Day is about remembering those who lost their lives serving the country.
“The worst thing in the world, they don’t want their son to be forgotten,” Springer said.
Springer says family members who have lost loved ones are grateful for the remembrance.
“I told her that I see her son Joe in my basement where I have some memorabilia there and she says ‘Thank you for remembering him,’” Springer said.
The stones outside the Hannah Community Center say it all.
“In loving memory of those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” Lahanas read.
They honor veterans not only on Memorial Day, but every day.
“These monuments will be here with these words for generations to come,” said Lahanas.
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