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Sterling Heights native basks in the honor of being the florist for Justice Ginsburg’s memorial

Sterling Heights native basks in the honor of being the florist for Justice Ginsburg’s memorial

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pause by the flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, during last week’s memorial. Pictured at front is the white floral display created by Michael Lanni, of Volanni Floral Design in D.C. and native of Sterling Heights, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Volanni Democratic political consultant and public policy advisor Anne Wexler, who worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign and served on his transition team after his victory over Gerald Ford, was the first person to notice his talents.

"She discovered me," said Michael Lanni, of Volanni floral design studio in Washington, D.C.

After that the Sterling Heights native blossomed into one of the most successful floral designers on Capitol Hill. White House ceremonies for two former presidents, gala parties for the city’s nonprofits and formal dinners at the Japanese embassy are among the high profile events he has worked on over the years.

But he’s as humble as a monk.

And it was not until last week’s memorial, while taking a moment to look over the lacy white hydrangea and freesia arrangements that he created to grace the portrait of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that he saw how far he had come.

"At that moment I realized I was standing in greatness," Lanni said.

Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 from complications related to pancreatic cancer, was the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Over the years she became known as a trailblazer for women’s rights, a prophet for justice and a "judge’s judge" for the clarity of her opinions, which provided a straightforward guide for the lower courts. Nominated by former President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg served on the court for 27 years. A private ceremony attended by the Supreme Court justices along with her two children and other family members was held in the court’s Great Hall. Following the private ceremony, Ginsburg’s flag-draped casket was moved outdoors so the public could pay respects. Thousands of mourners lined up to walk past the casket over the course of two days, before being moved to the Capitol. She was the first woman and first Jew to lie in state therein. On Sept. 29, she was buried beside her husband in Arlington National Cemetery.

"She was a great human, a great being," Lanni said, while trying to describe the incredible feelings that he felt while standing next to Ginsburg’s portrait and his arrangements.

"There are no words to describe it. I’ve been trying to but it’s such an incredible feeling. Everything that I wanted to achieve up to that moment I had achieved."

Then to see her portrait, how people viewed her, and my work? It was just an incredible honor,” said the graduate of Sterling Heights High School.

The son of Italian parents, with an eye for fashion and a passion for gardening it was no surprise that Lanni would go on to study fine arts at Wayne State University. As a student, Lanni worked at a Ralph Lauren retail store in […]

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