Since 1868, Memorial Day has been a time to honor fallen soldiers from every branch of the United State Military. The holiday holds deep personal significance for Michigan’s veterans, as it serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by their fellow servicemen and women. For individual veterans across the state, the day is a time of reflection, remembrance and honoring the memories of their comrades.

The annual holiday also serves as a reminder to the broader community of its ongoing duty to support living veterans. It spotlights discussions about the challenges Michigan’s veterans face, from physical and mental health issues to housing insecurity and more, and encourages the community to rally behind them with compassion and resources.  

In recognition of Memorial Day, One Detroit contributor Bryce Huffman sat down with three veterans at the Royal Oak Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1669 — 103-year-old World War II Army veteran Houston Pritchett, Vietnam Air Force veteran Mike Sand and Vietnam Marine Corps veteran Phillip Smith — to learn what the holiday means to each of them and how they commemorate it.  

Plus, they talk about where each of their military service journeys began, what family and friends thought about their decision to enlist, the impact of survivor’s guilt and whether they’ve felt it personally, and how they choose to honor fallen veterans beyond the annual holiday. 

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