Veterans Tribute Ready for Visitors with VIDEO

The Board of Directors for the Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township (VTOT) held the Dedication Ceremony on July 31

It was a raining evening that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits for the event. Shuttle buses transported hundreds of people from Oakland Christian Church (just around the corner). Introductions of the many speakers were conducted by VTOT Director, Timothy Reese. Speakers included VTOT Director, Terry Gonser, former Oakland Township Supervisor and is credited as the concept person of the tribute. Frank Beckmann, host of the Frank Beckmann Show (WJR Radio) and Congressman Mike Bishop, also spoke at the event.

Video of part of Mr. Beckmann’s Comments

“The VTOT Board is very proud to have built this unique and inspiring monument to the Armed Forces and to our Veterans. The weather for the Dedication Ceremony wasn’t the best, but according to the Oakland Country Sherriff’s Department, over 1200 people showed up to participate. We were honored by their support,” said Timothy Reese, VTOT Director and Retired Colonel, US Army. “We are also pleased to note that it was 100% funded – based on the generosity of residents and local contractors who donated their funds, their time, and their professional skills to make it possible. We hope it serves as an inspiration for decades to come.”

Photo of six brick pavers in the walkway around the tribute

Honoring Veterans with Dedication Brick Pavers – Photo by Michael Dwyer

“I also want everyone to know that we will continue to install new brick pavers honoring Veterans twice per year,” said Reese. “Our next install will be in late fall 2018. Details for ordering a laser-engraved paver are on our website at”

“Even though we had significant amounts of rain at times, it didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits,” said Terry Gonser, VTOT Director. “Indeed, the support the wider community showed for this Tribute and the Veterans in general was most gratifying. With well over 1200 guests, nearly everyone stayed for the entire ceremony regardless of the weather.”

Photo of the jet flying overhead

USAF F-16 Flyover – Photo by Michael Dwyer

“Those who stayed were treated with the flyover of two Ohio Air National Guard 180th Fighter Wing F-16 jets with full afterburners throwing 30′ blue flames out the exhaust – twice. Unfortunately, the B-17 WWII bomber couldn’t make the flight due to the low ceiling,” said Gonser. “However, we had a large contingent of WWII Veterans in attendance, including John Rogers, a WWII B-17 Tail Gunner and Bud Abbott, a WWII P-51 Pilot. A cute story evolved just before the F-16s showed up. Bud was so concerned they wouldn’t be able to find us with the low ceiling that he came to a couple of us Directors and strongly suggested we needed to turn on the lights so the pilots could find us. We insisted that with their GPS, they would definitely find us. He was unconvinced, being a VFR pilot of old, until the jets came screaming over. What a thrill.”

Gonser shakes the hand of a verteran in uniform

Terry Gonser thanks a veteran in attendance – Photo by Michael Dwyer

“So, the night was an unqualified success,” said Gonser. “We had Veterans from as far away as Findlay, OH and Owosso, MI. This Dedication just proved, regardless of what one sees on the evening news, Patriotism and love for our Veterans runs deep and wide in America. The Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township is now experiencing a steady stream of visitors and they are all in awe of the beauty, the reverence and the dignity of this World Class edifice dedicated to honor our Veterans, past, present and future.”

“While we do not want to make any changes or additions to the fundamental Tribute, our phase II plans include large granite slabs with inscriptions of the founding documents, Declaration of Independence, Northwest Ordinance, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the parking lot island,” said Gonser, “Other meaningful and historically significant American documents are also under consideration. We would also like to have a large granite entrance monument featuring the VTOT logo. As this entire project has been 100% privately funded with either cash or in-kind donations, we have additional fundraising opportunities in the future including establishing a $300K – $400K endowment fund to provide for maintenance into perpetuity.”

Attendees seating in the rain

Dedication Ceremony for the Veterans Tribute of Oakland Township – Photo by Michael Dwyer

The Veterans Tribute is located on the west side of Adams Road, between Dutton and Silverbell Roads, on a five-acre parcel of land donated to Oakland Township by the Moceri family. A Groundbreaking Ceremony was held one year ago. The Tribute’s focal point will be six massive glass panels, 14-feet tall and 4-feet wide, one for each of the Military Services – Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Merchant Marines – in ascending order of their dates of commission. The personalized tribute brick pavers are installed along the walking path, around the flagpole, and in front the glass panels.

The three sit on a bench at the ceremony

National Anthem singer, Brandy Hewines, Karen Beckmann, and Guest Speaker Frank Beckmann – Photo by Michael Dwyer

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

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