What is tradition?

(courtesy photo)
(courtesy photo)

By Richard Karns

Special to the Herald Review

The Encarta Dictionary states a tradition is a long-established custom or set of beliefs handed down from one generation to another.

I would like to tell you of a tradition that has been going on for more than 50 years; how it began and why. Because traditions are carried on from one year or generation to the next, the reason and the why behind the tradition may not be apparent to those who have come later on.

Reed City has had a Memorial Day Parade ever since I can remember, and the VFW military honor guard has always been a part of it. The police usually lead the parade with sirens and flashing lights. In 1962, this was no different. When the parade concluded at Woodland Cemetery, the honor guard left to a spot on Norman Road, west of Reed City, to enjoy some adult beverages and wait until the service at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery to start.

Hearing this sometime later, Don Grein, who was the Osceola County Sheriff, at the time, told them any kind of alcohol or beer on the side of a public road would be against the law. Don suggested the next year they go to his farm, and there they could have beverages of that nature, because it would be on private land.

Don said he would even make the beer, and according to his daughter Aloma Grein, “it was sometimes good, and other times not so much”.

This is how the tradition of the VFW honor guard going to Don and Dorothy Grein's farm began. It started with only the eight of the honor guard and the flag bearers in 1963, to the 37 which were present at the farm this last Memorial Day Parade of 2015.

Dorothy said, “It has turned into a much bigger deal and more of a family reunion.” It has changed over the years. “It is good to see new faces, but sad when the older faces are no longer with us.”

Bill Duddles, one of the original members, was at this years gathering. Bill died a few weeks later.

I talked with Dan Grein who has taken over the organizing of this event since 2006. Don wasn’t able to continue because of poor health, and died in 2008. Dan told me he is proud to carry on the tradition after the Memorial Day Parade his father started.

Dorothy and Aloma showed me the sign up sheet from this past reunion and assured me that those in attendance wanted their names listed for this article. I did checked with some of them, and was told they are proud to be able to be part of Reed City’s Memorial Day Parade to pay tribute to the fallen who have fought our country’s wars.

In attendance: Howard Gifford, Gary Ruttle, Patrick Kailiing, Dave MacKeller, Burl Near, Robert Roggow, Ron Neal, Rudy Grahek, Jim Wein, Tom Simmons, Dave Nehmer, Ken Boyer, Larry Adams, Rod Weck, Bob Sims, Bob Witherall, Fay Wilson, Art Proefrock, Earl Kage, Bill Duddles, Richard Gibbons, Russ Nehmer, the two trumpeters Joseph Gerring, Kuris Brackett, and the Grein Family: Dorothy, Aloma Jeff, Dan and Lorie, Rosemary, Amy, Justis, Josh, Faith, Nic, Brandon and Magen.