A Day of Remembrance and Reflection


Area attorneys share their thoughts about Memorial Day

The Memorial Day weekend, traditionally heralding the start of summer, is a time to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend this country’s freedom.

Some area attorneys who served — or still serve — in the military shared their thoughts about this special day.


Eric Nemeth —

Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett

Eric Nemeth, a partner in the Detroit office of Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett, served from December 1989 to June 2004 as an attorney and major in the U.S. Army Reserve. A University of Michigan graduate, Nemeth earned his J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law, and LL.M Taxation from Wayne State University.

“Memorial Day is and should be one of our nation’s most sacred of traditions — a day specifically set aside to reflect and remember and honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice,” says Nemeth, who attends Memorial Day services in the City of Plymouth where he resides.

The sacrifice is even more evident to Nemeth as the years pass and he watches his children become adults, and he finds himself reflecting on his own life.
“It’s at that moment I realize the true sacrifice that Memorial Day honors,” he says. “We can look at pictures frozen in time of the departed, hear stories from often fading memories of relatives, friends and comrades but when you take a moment and realize that those who died will not raise their own families, attend graduations, weddings, births or mourn the loss of their loved ones, the enormity of the sacrifice left me overwhelmed and still, if for a moment.

“While I’m proud to have served my country in what compares as a small way, I’m humbled by the enormity and finality Memorial Day represents.”


Stephen Dunn —

Howard & Howard

Stephen Dunn, a Wayne State Law grad and a partner with Howard & Howard Attorneys in Royal Oak, is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve and currently serves with 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Ft. Campbell, KY. President of the Detroit Chapter of the Veterans Bar Association, Dunn previously served on active duty with XVIII Airborne Corps at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was a trial counsel for several Airborne combat brigades.

“Memorial Day is an opportunity to thank and honor all military veterans and their families for their selfless service to our country,” says Dunn, who deployed to the Middle East in 2014, where he served as command judge advocate, Naval Special Warfare Unit THREE/Joint Special Forces Task Force Gulf Cooperation Council. “It’s a day to cherish especially those bravest warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice, to reflect on the importance of the core values and ideals upon which our country was founded, and to resolve to implement whatever changes we can in our daily lives that allow us to focus less on ourselves and better on actions we can take to improve the world around us.”


Jeffrey Kopp —

Foley & Lardner

Jeffrey Kopp, a partner and litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP in Detroit, graduated from West Point in 1990 and served on active duty in the U.S. Army in Germany, Oklahoma, Texas and Iraq. A recipient of the Bronze Star Medal, Kopp currently is a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and commands the 91st Legal Operations Detachment in Chicago.

 For Kopp, Memorial Day is broader than a day of remembrance for those who have died in this nation’s wars. “To me, Memorial Day is the one day each year when we honor, thank, and celebrate the lives of our brave soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women who are no longer with us,” he says. “These exceptionally courageous men and women proudly wore our nation’s military uniforms and deserve our utmost praise and respect. They and, of course, their families made incredible sacrifices in wartime and peacetime and readily accepted the challenges and hardships of military life for the higher purpose of standing guard for freedom.

“During my 25 years of service, I’ve been so fortunate to know and serve with so many dedicated individuals who have committed themselves to service in the best military in the world. On this day, I fondly remember all of those who fought or were prepared to fight for our great nation’s freedom, particularly those individuals who I personally called my friends and family. My life has been truly enriched by the honor of having served with such awesome people.”


Fred Dewey —

Dickinson Wright

Fred Dewey, an attorney with Dickinson Wright in Detroit, served in the U.S. Army Reserve Military Police Corps from 2001-2009. Shortly after graduating from U of D Jesuit High School, he shipped out to basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2002 and to Iraq in 2005. He used his GI Bill benefits to attend Loyola University New Orleans and law school at Wayne State.

Dewey, who was born in Petoskey and raised in Detroit, is a founding member of the Veterans Bar Association (Detroit Chapter), where he serves on the board of directors. His decision to enlist in the Army was inspired by his grandfather who served in World War II.

Dewey does not view Memorial Day as a day of mourning. “Rather, it’s a day for us to remember the peace we enjoy and often take for granted came at an unimaginable cost,” he says. “It reminds me how fortunate I am to be a citizen of a nation comprised of men and women of such extraordinary character and courage.

“This Memorial Day, while I relax and spend time at a barbecue with close friends and family, I will reflect on the great honor that it is to have served amongst men and women who have unhesitatingly demonstrated the greatest love of all — to have laid down their lives for their friends.”


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