Spinal Column: May we count our many blessings this Thanksgiving

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

On Sept. 6, 1620, a group of more than 130 hardy souls departed in the ship the Mayflower from Plymouth, England, headed across the Atlantic for the mouth of the Hudson River in New York, seeking a home where they could worship freely.

After a harrowing two months at sea, the Pilgrims landed on Nov. 9 at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, more than 250 miles northeast of their original destination.

About half of the Pilgrims survived the first brutal winter in Massachusetts. After being befriended in the spring by Native Americans who taught them to survive in their new land, the Pilgrims enjoyed a successful harvest in the fall.

In November of 1621, the Pilgrims and their Native American friends gave thanks for their good fortune and celebrated with a three-day feast, now considered American’s first Thanksgiving.

Nearly 400 years later, although our circumstances as Americans are drastically different from those of the Pilgrims, we enjoy our own abundant blessings for which we give thanks.

We live in the greatest and freest nation in the history of the world. The Pilgrims pursued religious freedom; today Americans enjoy the fruit of that pursuit, along with the freedoms of speech and the press and other rights enshrined in our Constitution.

Closer to home, we are enjoying a substantial economic boon and remarkable recovery from Michigan’s Lost Decade.

While we should be grateful for our material blessings, it is most important to remember what is of the greatest worth: our creator, our family, and our friends.

As the Pilgrims knew, without the blessings of God, we are without hope. It is right and good to give thanks to him at Thanksgiving.

It is also good to thank God for our friends and family. I hope that you, like me, have many wonderful memories of Thanksgivings past spent around the dinner table with those closest to you.

Thanksgiving when I was a boy included days of cooking and baking and other holiday preparations. My aunt was famous for her pumpkin pies; Mom was famous for her homemade whipped cream.

On Thanksgiving morning, the family would be up early and head to the Detroit Parade. On the way home, we would stop for hot Vernors or hot chocolate.

I am grateful for such memories.

This Thanksgiving, make your own memories. Spend some extra time in meaningful conversation with those who mean the most to you. Let them know that you care about them, and that you are thankful for having them in your life.

I am thankful for my own wonderful family and friends, and I am thankful for the constituents of the 15th Senate District.

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

This column appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Oakland Press: May we count our many blessings this Thanksgiving

On Sept. 6, 1620, a group of more than 130 hardy souls departed in the ship the Mayflower from Plymouth, England, headed across the Atlantic for the mouth of the Hudson River in New York, seeking a home where they could worship freely.

After a harrowing two months at sea, the Pilgrims landed on Nov. 9 at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, more than 250 miles northeast of their original destination.

About half of the Pilgrims survived the first brutal winter in Massachusetts. After being befriended in the spring by Native Americans who taught them to survive in their new land, the Pilgrims enjoyed a successful harvest in the fall.

In November of 1621, the Pilgrims and their Native American friends gave thanks for their good fortune and celebrated with a three-day feast, now considered American’s first Thanksgiving.

Nearly 400 years later, although our circumstances as Americans are drastically different from those of the Pilgrims, we enjoy our own abundant blessings for which we give thanks.

We live in the greatest and freest nation in the history of the world. The Pilgrims pursued religious freedom; today Americans enjoy the fruit of that pursuit, along with the freedoms of speech and the press and other rights enshrined in our Constitution.

Closer to home, we are enjoying a substantial economic boon and remarkable recovery from Michigan’s Lost Decade.

While we should be grateful for our material blessings, it is most important to remember what is of the greatest worth: our creator, our family, and our friends.

As the Pilgrims knew, without the blessings of God, we are without hope. It is right and good to give thanks to him at Thanksgiving.

It is also good to thank God for our friends and family. I hope that you, like me, have many wonderful memories of Thanksgivings past spent around the dinner table with those closest to you.

Thanksgiving when I was a boy included days of cooking and baking and other holiday preparations. My aunt was famous for her pumpkin pies; Mom was famous for her homemade whipped cream.

On Thanksgiving morning, the family would be up early and head to the Detroit Parade. On the way home, we would stop for hot Vernors or hot chocolate.

I am grateful for such memories.

This Thanksgiving, make your own memories. Spend some extra time in meaningful conversation with those who mean the most to you. Let them know that you care about them, and that you are thankful for having them in your life.

I am thankful for my own wonderful family and friends, and I am thankful for the constituents of the 15th Senate District.

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

This column appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.

Kowall calls for restoration and preservation of Michigan War Veterans Memorial

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall said on Friday that due to rapid deterioration and the sale of historic State Fairgrounds property, the Michigan War Veterans Memorial in Detroit must be relocated and restored as soon as possible to save the monument.

Kowall said a group of concerned citizens has joined together and is in ongoing discussions with a variety of nonprofit organizations interested in assisting with the relocation and funding of the memorial.

“The Michigan War Veterans Memorial is a noble tribute honoring Michigan’s military veterans,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “We want to restore this important monument to honor the history of the veterans who built it and preserve it for years to come”

The memorial represents more than 300 veteran service organizations from Michigan and Canada. The vast majority of veterans represented served in World War I, with others serving in wars through the Vietnam War era. The memorial has resided on the corner of Woodward Avenue and East State Fair Avenue since its unveiling on Veterans Day in 1939. Decades of exposure to the elements, coupled with more recent vandalism, have brought decay.

The restoration will include landscaping the new location for the memorial, restoration of the existing monument, maintenance of the monument once it is erected, and ongoing improvements.

“Discussions have been ongoing with the state to determine an appropriate location for the monument to be relocated,” Kowall said. “The Department of Natural Resources is currently developing a master plan for Milliken State Park that will include a proposed location for the memorial.”

Kowall said a booth is planned for Vets Fest at the Detroit Veterans Day Parade and will include renderings of the potential restored monument site.

“The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs as well as the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency are proud to assist this effort and want to thank Senator Kowall for his leadership with this project and thank all of the partners that are committing their own time and resources to preserve this important monument,” said Maj. Gen. Mike Stone, Michigan Army National Guard assistant adjutant general.

Donations for the project can be made through Heritage Michigan at www.heritagemichigan.org. Any donations should be marked “vets.” Heritage Michigan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that partners with state agencies, organizations and individual donors to protect, preserve and promote Michigan’s rich and diverse history.

The Veterans Memorial currently resides on the Michigan State Fairgrounds property. The site hosted the Michigan State Fair from 1905 until 2009. In 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation allowing the transfer of the site to the Michigan Land Bank to return the site to productive use. The Michigan Land Bank has executed purchase agreements with the city of Detroit and Magic Plus, LLC to redevelop the historic 157-acre property in Detroit. The Michigan State Fairgrounds site is one of the largest developable parcels of land in the city and represents an opportunity to create economic growth and continued community development.

The more than 300 veteran service organizations from Michigan and Canada represented in the monument include (but are not limited to) the American Legion, American Veterans, Catholic War Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Marine Corps League, Polish League of American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

For questions, inquiries or referrals, please contact Kowall’s Director of District & Veteran Affairs Lynn O’Brien at 248-245-9755.

Note: For a print-quality version of this photo or other Kowall photos, click the image or select Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.

Kowall congratulates area districts receiving Competitive School Safety grants

Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall on Thursday congratulated three school districts on being awarded funds from the state’s Competitive School Safety Grant Program.

“The safety of our schoolchildren must be at the top of our concerns,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “These grants will help these schools provide a safe learning environment for their students.”

The districts awarded grants are:
• FlexTech High School, Novi — $14,984
• Jean and Samuel Frankel Jewish Academy, West Bloomfield — $21,784
• South Lyon Community Schools — $195,975

The Legislature dedicated $25 million within the state budget to provide grants to improve the safety and security of school buildings through the purchase of technology and equipment and through school building safety assessments.

For more information, visit the Michigan State Police’s Grants and Community Service Division website at www.michigan.gov/cjgrants and click the School Safety link.