(05/23/13) - In a year's time, Michigan lost nine military servicemen in the
line of duty.
Thursday, in Lansing, the fallen heroes were honored during a Memorial Service in the State Senate.
For the past 19 years, the Senate has hosted this ceremony. Every year, it brings a deeper meaning to the words 'service' and 'sacrifice.'
It was an emotional and uplifting ceremony honoring Michigan's fallen war veterans - servicemen and women who gave themselves to protect our freedom here at home.
The names of nine servicemen from Michigan who lost their lives in the past year were read aloud. The somber service is a reminder of how much they gave.
"This was really emotional one great tribute to the heroes," said "Having been my first one, the pipe band, honor ground, it was real humbling to be part of it," said Sen. Jim Ananich, Flint (D).
Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of Vassar was the keynote speaker, at the invitation of Tuscola County Senator Mike Green.
"First time you see, it's just so moving, and it never changes. He was up there crying, half the senate was crying. I think it's something Michigan needs to do to honor our fallen and I'm just excited to be part of the whole thing," Green said.
Mills was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan when he lost both arms and legs in an IED explosion. He received a standing ovation from the crowd - a gesture that touched him deeply.
Mills spoke of his time in the U.S. Army and the friends he lost, showing his emotions as he remembered the good times they shared.
"Memorial Day for me has a special meaning. I'm honored to be here, thank you for your time. I keep going because my wife and child are with me, my family is great, the support from Michigan is phenomenal," he said. "For the record, I didn't know all of your loved ones, but in the service, we all have a brotherhood that no one knows about or understands unless you're there, so from my heart to yours, I'm so sorry for your loss."
PFC Shane Cantu of Corunna was among those honored Thursday, as his parents looked on from the Senate Floor.
"It's almost been a year and we are thankful senators invited us to come," said Cantu's mother, Jennifer Clarke.
It will be the first Memorial Day without her son. He died in Afghanistan last August.
Clarke stays strong to keeps his memory alive.
"I'm very pleased to be here to honor my son and fellow soldiers," she said. "Sometimes I need to be here, we're the only voice our son has left, we need to stand proud for him and all the fallen soldiers that fought for our country."
Cantu's family will spend Memorial Day at his gravesite.
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