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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Bottrall

Fort Mackinac

While Americans are taking a few moments over this weekend to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country, here on Mackinac Island we remember these heroes every day of the summer season. Reveille sounds every morning waking the town with the memory of the soldiers who lived in Fort Mackinac. Their memories resonate with the startling blast of cannon fire over the town six times every day. Like a bedtime prayer, Taps plays somberly out over the town every evening, calling everyone to rest and also reminding us of those we have lost. While the traditions are great for tourists, for those who may have lost loved ones during the wars, the blast of the cannon and the call of the bugle are reminders of the courage and valor of their loved ones.

David and I participated in an early morning memorial walk today. Trudging the ½ mile from the back of Fort Mackinac to the Post cemetery with costumed interpreters acting as soldiers and the wife of a deceased soldier was certainly a fitting way to commemorate the day. Accompanied by about 50 other guests, we watched as the “widow” lay a flowered wreath on the grave of her husband who had died and then felt the emotion as the “soldiers” fired their rifles three times. A young fort soldier played taps on his bugle.

The walk was beautiful. Honestly, surrounded by the serenity of the forest and air scented with lily of the valley it was difficult to imagine the grief that so many must have felt during this walk. Surrounded by so much charm it was hard to even decide what to take pictures of. The lady slippers are blooming, and they tiptoed around the white picket cemetery fence. Tiny daisies dotted the grass around marble soldier tombstones, their petals tightly closed, and heads tipped into the shadows, as if grieving so many lives lost. Curious children, dressed in red, white and blue examined every nook and cranny of the cemetery. Dads carried tired little ones and moms pushed strollers with small children; teaching the next generation why our memories of these past heroes is important.

We met a woman who was participating because she had lost her marine husband in the Iraqi war. He is buried at the Fort Custer Cemetery in Augusta, Michigan. I can only imagine her memories, her pains. But for today she sets her own pain aside and has come out to pay tribute to others who gave their lives for our great country.

If you have experienced the loss of a loved on whether it’s during service to our country or not, I hope you think of them fondly on this day of remembrance. Consider their sacrifices and hold them close in your heart. I wish you peace.


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