News - Special

Below you will find special news that may be of interest for you or someone you know!

Operation Handshake


“Operation Handshake” is a gathering of folks from all walks of life to “Welcome Home” folks at the Gerald R. Ford airport on December 24th, from 9 am to 5 pm.  Specifically we seek out to recognize all Veterans and active duty personnel, but we are also extending that Christmas cheer to everyone passing through our line.


This is a “Community Service” opportunity for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the public.  The stories from last year are an inspiration for any who attended, or happened to be at the airport that day.  Our Face Book page has many pictures to help illustrate some of what we do, but mainly it is just mingling and wishing folks a “Merry Christmas,” engaging them in some small talk to help identify our Veterans, and recognizing their service with a heartfelt THANK YOU, and a handshake or hug.


So, if you have some time , and want to feel what Christmas is REALLY about, stop on out.  Join our “Flag Line” as we greet the incoming and outbound flights, their passengers, and family and friends.  This will definitely make your holiday season more memorable.


No obligation to remain the whole day, folks come and go as their time allows.  We have also been joined by those that we are there to support, long after their plane has come, and gone, it is that special kind of a day!


Written by Tom Plaska


Operation Handshake is an event orchestrated by the “United Veterans Council of Kent County”






The Wall

Kentwood Is Going To Host The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall


Copy of Ariticle in the Grand Rapids Press Link


KENTWOOD -- Kentwood city leaders are planning to bring a nationally renowned veterans’ exhibit to the city next summer in what they are calling a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

City commissioners approved the plan Tuesday, giving city Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Ziesemer authorization to confirm a July 2012 display of the “Cost of Freedom Tribute" by the American Veterans Traveling Tribute.wall.jpgThe traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall that is an 80-percent scaled version of the memorial wall in Washington D.C.

Ziesemer said he believes it will be the only stop in Michigan in 2012 for the famed tribute.

”I’m very excited about bringing this to Kentwood. It’s an emotional event and it will be a West Michigan event,” he said.

The city plans to host the event July 25-29, 2012 at Veteran’s Park in Kentwood.

The tribute includes a traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall that is an 80-percent scaled version of the memorial wall in Washington D.C. The traveling wall -- 380 feet long, and 8 feet tall and listing 58,253 names of Vietnam veterans -- makes stops all across the country as a way of honoring, respecting, and remembering veterans.

The Cost of Freedom Tribute also honors military members killed in action between the end of Vietnam and the 9-11 attack, as well as a 9-11 tribute with names of the 2,984 casualties organized by the place where they died.

There is also a Gold Dog Tag tribute to all members of the armed forces who have died in the global war on terror, information on World War II and the Korean War and additional national history collections.

”This is awesome. What a fabulous project to be able to bring to Kentwood,” said Commissioner Robert Coughlin.

The city of Cadillac hosted the traveling tribute last summer. Ziesemer said he’s already contacted officials there to gain information and suggestions.

”The response to all this is going to be stronger than what we can imagine I’m sure,” said Mayor Richard Root. “This is just too big to pass up.”

The city needs to raise an estimated $22,350 for the tribute. Ziesemer said he will look for in-kind donations, volunteers, corporate sponsors and assistance from veteran’s organizations.

”I think this is going to be a fabulous opportunity for Kentwood and for the region,” said Commissioner Sharon Brinks.