Darrin Kelly was driving when he first noticed it.
“I saw a veterans memorial that needed some attention,” said Kelly, Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council president. “The concrete is cracked and (American) flags are broken, and it’s overgrown. This monument is in the middle of Downtown Pittsburgh. People see it every day.”
The one he is referring to is the First Ward Veterans Memorial at the intersection of Sixth Avenue, Forbes Avenue and Diamond Street in Downtown Pittsburgh behind the Allegheny County Courthouse. It’s seen by traffic coming off the Liberty Bridge.
Courtesy of Darrin Kelly
The greenery is overgrown at the First Ward Veterans Memorial located at the intersection of Sixth Avenue, Forbes Avenue and Diamond Street in Downtown Pittsburgh.
He and other union members and volunteers will be working to clean up the area — pulling weeds, providing new mulch and flags — starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.
It’s one of several activities for the Labor Day “Weekend of Service,” which begins Friday. It has been held in conjunction with the annual Labor Day Parade but the parade has been canceled this year because of the rising covid-19 cases.
“It is so important to us to take care of these memorials,” said Kelly, a Navy veteran and Pittsburgh firefighter who lives in Lincoln Place and grew up in in Greenfield. “Many of our union members are veterans, and Western Pennsylvania overall has so many veterans. It is an area rich in service to our country. We cherish these memorials.”
Kelly said the service days are a way to teach the next generation about caring for these spaces that remind people of those who were in the armed forces.
“We are so proud to do this,” he said. “There are so many memorials in Western Pennsylvania that need attention. We need to remember the people who committed their lives to our country. These memorials are places of honor.”
The cleanup is one of several areas of service happening this weekend. There will be a blood drive from 1 to 6 p.m. on Friday in partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania at PPG Paints Arena, Uptown.
Little Free Libraries will be installed throughout Allegheny County, which provide books, school supplies and fire safety information, on Saturday.
On Sunday morning, the council will hold a Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.
“We’re disappointed that we can’t gather for the parade this year, but we are excited to carry on our tradition of giving back to our communities,” Kelly said. “We are committed to serving our communities. In that same spirit of service, we encourage all those who are eligible to donate blood in our blood drive, and to find some way to give back to your own community this Labor Day weekend.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .