Tribune-Democrat: 'Support and gratitude': Crowd stands united to salute area vets
The chilly weather did not stop an enthusiastic crowd from filling the sidewalks of Main Street in downtown Johns-town to view the 20th annual Veterans Day parade.
Presented by the Conemaugh Valley Veterans, this year’s parade honored the 25th anniversary of the Persian Gulf War.
While the country appeared divided this week with the presidential election, unity could visibly be seen as those in attendance at Friday’s parade stood side by side one another, many holding an American flag.
Bud Hall and William Rozier, both of Johnstown, said that it was great to see everyone come back together after a heated presidential election.
Hall, a Vietnam veteran, said, “It feels real good to be with my comrades today. It’s a nice turnout and I’m glad we could all get together.”
Rozier, a veteran as well, joined the armed services shortly after the Korean War.
He added, “It’s good to see that the people still turn out for these parades in Johnstown.”
Johnstown resident James Myers said that he attended the parade to support the local veterans and his many family members who made careers in serving for this country.
“I try to get to this parade every year," Myers said. "Many men and women gave their lives so that we could stand here today. This is the least I can do to show my support and gratitude."
After the parade concluded, a flag-raising and flag-lowering ceremony was held in Central Park. Those in attendance included former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Ed Wojnaroski Sr.; State Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont, who was later given an award for his continued assistance with the parade over the years; U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus; state Rep. Bryan Barbin; Cambria County Commissioners Tom Chernisky, Mark Wissinger, and William “BJ” Smith; the newly elected state senator for the 35th district, Wayne Langerholc; and Johnstown Mayor Frank Janakovic.
The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Maj. John Forte, a veteran of five overseas deployments.
Forte’s message was clear – to applaud those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend this nation.
He acknowledged how proud he was of the region for its support and continued contributions.
Forte said that there are approximately 23 million living veterans, while less than 1 percent of the nation’s population serves in the military.
“This tells us how distinct and special are service men and women really are,” he said.
Forte noted that being referred to as a veteran is the single greatest honor of his life.
Master of ceremonies and parade organizer Marty Kuhar said that he was very pleased with Forte’s speech and the overall turnout of the event.
“Needless to say, we had the turnout, we had the weather, but more importantly we had the participants," Kuhar said. "If you saw the parade it was amazing.
“We are so appreciative of the great participation we got this year."