May, 2012. Fulton, Michigan – Memorial Day in Small Town America

Posted on May 28, 2012


It’s the best place to live and it’s the worst place to live.

It’s a combination of pretty houses with flowers in the yard, and shabby houses with junk cars in the driveway.  There’s one small business still hanging on amidst other crumbling, rundown store buildings that once served the community, but now serve as cheap housing.

It’s the essence of Small Town America, and it’s the place to be on Memorial Day.

Fulton, Michigan, is a tiny town in Wakeshma Township, Kalamazoo County. Population-wise, it’s lumped in with the 1,500 population of the township when it comes to government stuff, so who knows how many actually live in the tiny town.

But like all small villages, Fulton has a big sense of pride in both its past and present.

Especially on Memorial Day.

Today is the town’s 100th consecutive Memorial Day observance, making their parade and ceremony at the cemetery south of town Number 1 in Michigan in terms of longevity.

Not once has the parade of fire engines, tractors, horses, bands, veterans and children been cancelled. They’ve paraded in the rain, in the aftermath of straight-line winds that tore up the countryside, through wars and the Great Depression.

The parade has wound its way through Fulton’s up and down history. Years ago it marched through a busy retail center; today it marched through the ghosts of the town that used to be.

But some things don’t change.

During every one of those 100 years the parade has ended at the cemetery. At first, it was veterans of the Civil War being honored. Later, as history unfolded an ever-lengthening list of township veterans, all were, and are, honored at the Grand Army of the Republic monument.

And during every one of those 100 years the parade has brought fun, pride and a sense of community to this ever-changing part of Kalamazoo County.

So why isn’t this guy’s wife driving HER tractor??