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Politics & Government

Vets Day: Remembering to Remember

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A long list of events celebrating Veterans Day will be strung out over the coming days giving western Pennsylvanians ample opportunity to celebrate the holiday.  However, for many, the nearly 100-year-old tradition of remembering those who have served has become little more than a few red letters on a calendar.

Those who will celebrate the day will do so in different ways.  Some will celebrate in a public fashion by watching a parade; others will do something more subdued and solitary, such as visiting the grave of a fallen soldier.

On Sunday, November 11 starting at 11 A.M., the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies will be hosting a Veterans Day ceremony to remember and honor all military members who have served or are currently serving our nation.

Ronald Hestdalen, the cemetery’s director and a twenty-year veteran of both the Army and Marine Corps, doesn’t believe that Veterans Day is a forgotten holiday, but rather something we must ensure is never forgotten.

“You know it is extremely important to remember our veterans and their sacrifices, not only on Veteran’s day, but throughout the year because these ladies and gentlemen answered the call to serve and that’s why we enjoy the freedoms we have,” said Hestdalen.

The city will mark Veterans Day with a parade Saturday.  The parade will step off from the corner of Liberty Ave. and Grant Street Saturday at 10:30 and finish at Point State Park in Downtown Pittsburgh.  Federal offices are closed Monday, the official holiday, while city offices remain open. 

Returning Vets Face Employment Challenges

Veterans of past generations were more likely to have served one multi-year stint in the military before returning home to restart their lives.  The most recent generation of veterans includes men and women who were called up from reserve units for multiple deployments, returning to their everyday lives for months at a time between stints in active combat zones.  Many of them are struggling to find employment. 

Denise Gross is the Chairwoman of the Pennsylvania arm of the Department of Defense agency known as the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves.  She does not think the definition of a veteran has changed at all but she thinks the public’s perception of a veteran has. 

These are individuals who have stood up and answered their country’s call. There are different dynamics and different generations, and I think we owe them all a great debt of gratitude for all they did and all that they’ve done, said Gross.