The U.S. military is known for their punctuality, which was excellently shown on Thursday morning at the start of the Alleghenies Veterans Days National Cemetery program.
“I have a few friends on the way to visit,” said Col. Bryan Bailey. “If we bridge this time, everything should work out around 11 o’clock.”
And just as he was finishing his pre-program address, an Air Force C-17 transport aircraft flew overhead and received applause from those in attendance.
Bailey, commander of the 911th Operations Group at Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, explained the importance of the aircraft.
“A few weeks ago this very aircraft – not one like it, mind you, but this aircraft – repaired, loaded, refueled, started and flown by reserve airmen from here in Pittsburgh to hundreds of our allies from Afghanistan following the promise of a better life” , he said.
Hope was shown during the program at the Cecil Township cemetery with Brig. Gen. General Jake Kwon in his keynote addressing the integral role of veterans in American society.
“After they take off their uniforms, their service often continues in a number of ways. If you look around and across the country, veterans serve as teachers, doctors, engineers, social workers, community leaders and elected officials, ”said Kwon, who heads the Army Reserve’s 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
“They continue to serve our communities through their positive contributions formed from their teachings and experiences in uniform. It builds stronger communities and legacies while also inspiring our younger Americans. “
Kwon noted that the United States has had the largest population of young veterans since the Vietnam War.
“They are a valuable resource for everyone, but they are also the glue that binds America back to the military community,” he said. “What has not changed is their determination or spiritual strength, and as they follow in the proud footsteps of the men and women who served in the armed forces and then served their communities, they will bring the unusual and unwavering strength that learned to wear the uniform.
“That is why I urge all of us to remember the dual aspects of our veterans’ service and to continue to support them without uniform so that they can successfully move into civil life and their next level.”
Bailey also spoke about the importance of recognizing those whose service in uniform is comparatively new.
“Veterans Day commemorates an old man who visits the graves of his historical war comrades, these young men who were never given the chance to grow old, men who lived on epic days and in epic places with names like Anzio, Normandy das Ultimate sacrifice and Iwo Jima, ”said Bailey.
“To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, on Veterans Day it is for us, the living, to be dedicated to the unfinished work here, not just to remind the veterans of this cemetery. We must remember and be grateful to all of the living veterans among us, ”he said. “So, yes, today we remember Anzio, Normandy and Iwo Jima. But we also remember the Chosin Reservoir, Saigon, Kuwait City, Mogadishu, Mazar-e-Sharif, Fallujah, Baghdad, Kabul and many more. “
Cemetery Director Edward Hajduk paid tribute to the many people and organizations who attended the celebration, including Canon-McMillan High School choir and band members, Civil Air Patrol Golden Triangle Composite Squadron 603, Marine Corps League Detachment 1138 in Washington, Patriot Guard Riders of Pennsylvania , Pittsburgh South Hills Keystone Chorus, Seneca Valley High School Army Junior ROTC, and Washington County Young Marines.
“The victims of our armed forces have created an environment of security and freedom in which our people have grown and prospered,” said Hajduk. “This is the story of America’s veterans, common men and women, who through their service buy our independence and help others who have felt the oppression of tyranny.”