Memorial Day. Thinking beyond the loss of vets.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday for honoring and mourning the U.S. military personnel who have died while serving in the armed forces. It is observed on the last Monday of May, which means it’s coming soon. 

It is a somber holiday. 

I remember, as a child, standing in the crowd watching the Muskegon Memorial Day parade. I remember seeing young and old military personnel marching with solemn looks on their faces. Tragedies in the Second World War had many women in the crowd shedding tears. 

Over the years we have expanded the observance of Memorial Day to include memories of other loved ones. Flowers are placed on the graves of family members and relatives. My mom and dad are buried in northern Michigan, and one of our cousins kindly sees to it that there are flowers on their grave marker each year. 

All of this leads me to the discussion, once again, of prisoner deaths. Each year more than 100 residents of Michigan prisons die. Just as on the outside, the causes vary. Yes, there are some murders and some suicides, but there are also deaths from illness and other natural causes. 

Sadly, many of the men and women who die behind bars, however, have little in the form of family and/or support group. Some have been in for so long there is no one left who cares or who is interested. There is no meaningful memorial service. There is no visitation in a funeral home or church. The interment is in a prison cemetery in Jackson, with no notice of fanfare.

That makes me sas. 

As I have stated before, I am determined to do something about it. Regardless of whether they had a memorial, I want HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS to coordinate a service that remembers all inmates who died in the previous year. I’m pleased to inform you that there is progress…it’s finally going to happen! 

We have a committee working on the project that includes a former prison chaplain who is providing invaluable assistance. The first may be a virtual service on video, so that prisoners in each facility may view it as well…but there will be a service. Our goal is to schedule it for sometime during the first quarter, or certainly by spring. 

Further details coming. 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” — Matthew 5:4


Louise Reichert said…
How wonderful! A service that mourns someone who became a good friend while in prison could be so healing for so many. Perhaps mention of loved ones lost on the outside to whose services the prisoner was unable to go could also be made? A statewide service to recognize these men and women would be a blessing indeed!

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