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Service to Country
September 10, 2020
By F/Lt. Mike Shaw, Second District PIO
September 10, 2020
In my 25-year career as a Michigan State Trooper, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of things that other professions do not, including meeting the President of the United States, working a security detail at the World Series and Super Bowl (without the Lions playing, of course) and the chance to transfer all over the state to work many different assignments. But on August 26, 2020, myself and members of the Metro North Post experienced one of our most memorable assignments when we had the honor of assisting and representing the MSP at a ceremony for a family who knows the true meaning of service, honor and tradition.
But let's back up a little so I can explain more.
Lt. Kelly Baines, who is the assistant post commander for the Metro South Post, received a phone call from Dr. Robert Armstead with an unusual request for help. He explained that his family had three veterans who served in three different wars, and that he had been working for about a year and a half to have all three service members buried side-by-side at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Mich. Upon hearing his plea, Lieutenant Baines assured him we'd help with whatever we could provide.
And so, on August 24, troopers from the Caro Post attended the disinterment of Peter Armstead, who served in the Union Army in the Civil War. His remains were escorted from New River Cemetery in Port Austin to Great Lakes National Cemetery.
Then, on the following day, troopers from the Metro North Post attended the disinterment of brothers Earl Armstead, a World War I Army Veteran and Robert Armstead, a World War II Army Veteran, at Cadillac Memorial Gardens West Cemetery in Westland. Their remains too were escorted with great care and honor to Great Lakes National Cemetery.
With all three Armstead family members now at Great Lakes National Cemetery, this is where I became involved. Myself and four troopers from the Metro North Post arrived at Great Lakes National Cemetery on August 26 to attend a service to honor the Armstead family's commitment to serving our country.
Upon arrival, I met Dr. Armstead, and without him speaking a word, I could tell immediately how much our attendance meant to him and his family.
While I've had the unfortunate opportunity to attend several military funerals and line-of-duty-death funerals for police officers, this service was different in that it celebrated not only the sacrifice of the deceased, but also heralded the service of this family and their decades long commitment of service to country. From the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War pallbearers to Honor Guards from the Sons of the American Revolution, to the current members of the Michigan National Guard, the Armstead family has continually answered the call.
After taps and the folding of three American flags, Major General Paul Rodgers spoke of the pride of military service and of honor, duty, commitment and sacrifice. His remarks reminded me of our department's value statement: A Proud Tradition of Service through Excellence, Integrity and Courtesy.
With everything going on in the country today, it's important to remember that this phrase is more than words on a challenge coin or the bottom of a memo. These words serve as a reminder to honor those troopers who came before us, those who serve today and those who will answer the call to serve our communities in the future. Thank you, Dr. Armstead, for inviting the Michigan State Police to be part of this special event and for reminding us all of what it means to truly serve.