Memorial Day speaker: "Words are great but actions are better"


Photos by Donna Schillaci and Cynthia Price


By Cynthia Price


U.S. Army Specialist Zaneta Adams of WINC For All Women Veterans, is proud of her eight years of service, which ended only when she was severely injured in a non-combat accident.

But when Adams gave the keynote speech to the crowd gathered at the annual  American Salute following the parade on Memorial Day, she asked that people who want to thank members of the service try to honor the principles they served for.

The program, sponsored by The Mona Shores Band Program and the Downtown Muskegon Memorial Day Parade Committee, was held at the Frauenthal Theater and included a 21-gun salute and a lot of rousing music in addition to Adams’s thoughtful address.

She started out by quoting Nelson Mandela: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Though she said that she loved it when people thanked her for her service, she felt it was far more important to reflect gratitude in the ways we live in community with each other. “Words are great, but actions are better. Before you get on Facebook and spread a hateful agenda, think, ‘Would that honor the memory of a fallen soldier?’ Before you degrade someone with your words, ask if that’s really the freedom of speech that someone died for.”

Though her remarks were brief, Adams, who is also an attorney, had a number of suggestions for actions that honor service members, including volunteering at her own organization, WINC (which originally stood for Women Injured IN Combat) For All Women Veterans
( or at the Lighthouse for Veterans suicide prevention programs ( or on Facebook), or by attending the Veterans Resiliency Summit which takes place in Muskegon May 31.

Sportscaster Brent Ashcroft of WZZM, a Mona Shores graduate, emceed the program which prominently featured the Mona Shores band. They played a medley of different military branch songs and individuals who had served in each branch stood up and were applauded.

Many bands marched in the downtown and Lakeside Memorial Day Parade in hot and sticky weather, including Reeths-Puffer, Muskegon, Orchard View and others, along with a wide variety of well-wishers, officials, and veterans groups including color bearers.

The previous day, there was a touching ceremony at the Final Approach Vietnam War Memorial. AVVA
?(Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America) life member Mary Lou Bowen read off the names of those from Muskegon County Killed in Action in Vietnam while the Muskegon Pipes and Drums played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.

The program noted that from World War I until now, 595 Muskegon County residents have sacrificed their lives.