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District communities planning Veterans Day events

Communities throughout the region are getting ready to honor the nation’s veterans with a number of tributes, speakers and parades throughout the coming days.

Nov. 11, Veterans Day, originally was known as Armistice Day and commemorates the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when World War I ended. The day became an official day of observance in the United States in 1926 and a national holiday in 1938. On June 1, 1954, Congress changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.

For nearly a decade, Veterans Day was part of Congress’ “Uniform Monday Holiday Act,” passed in 1968, which moved it and three other holidays to increase the number of long holiday weekends for federal and state employees.

Americans overwhelmingly disagreed with the change, and in 1978, Veterans Day again was observed on Nov. 11.

Area services are listed below.

Dravosburg

Dravosburg’s American Legion Post 380, 51 Duquesne Ave., will celebrate the restoration of its veterans’ memorial with a ceremony Thursday at 5 p.m.

It is a story that starts on Memorial Day 2009.

“Shortly after our Memorial Day service at our post, a large sinkhole developed on our property due to heavy rain,” borough tax collector Charles E. Gross said.

“At first we were told it was our responsibility since we had a downspout connected into the system and our lateral line had separated and needed to be reattached to the main,” Gross said. “We removed our flagpoles due to safety concerns.”

Repairs began a year ago.

“Our monument and cannon that had been in our front lawn had to be removed,” Gross said. “The excavation was extensive.”

Eventually, ground would be broken in September for the new location of the monument.

“With hours of volunteer work, over 25 yards of concrete and extensive help from area companies we are going to make our deadline (of Veterans Day),” Gross said. “The middle of our new monument is our original one that was dedicated on Memorial Day 1955 by a group on Korean War Vets.”

Help came from Duquesne Light, Anthony Crane, Power Piping, Linton Enterprises, Buono Brothers and the borough.

Duquesne

Retired Duquesne police Chief Paul Cmar and the late Duquesne police officer William Gibbons are among the veterans who will be honored at the Duquesne Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 188, 215 N. Second St., at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Gibbons is being honored on the 40th anniversary of his death with a flag that will be given to his family.

McKeesport Mayor James Brewster, the Democratic state senator-elect in the 45th District, is a scheduled speaker.

Elizabeth Forward

New Emerson Elementary School will host a tribute to past, present and future veterans titled “Give Me Tomorrow” on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. The program will feature a flag ceremony, music, honored guests and speakers. All are invited to attend.

Elizabeth Forward High School will host a Veterans Day program Thursday at 7 p.m. in the auditorium.

Irwin

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 781 Irwin/North Huntingdon Township will present a program for the community on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at the post home at 100 Billot Ave. near Route 30.

Doors open at least an hour earlier and music will be provided by the Norwin High School orchestra string quartet under the direction of Mike Szymanski at 10 a.m.

Main speaker for the program will be Lt. Col. Susan Onivern, from Evans City, who will talk about the role of women in the military.

In the audience will be a contingent from the China, Burma, India Group of World War II veterans, and veterans from local nursing homes.

American Legion Post 359 will be represented by Cmdr. Tom Tomko and the Auxiliary by Dawn Apelquist.

The VFW Honor Guard under the direction of Cpt. Tom Keaton will post colors and fire a volley for departed comrades.

All veterans and military personnel and their families are invited. A luncheon will follow the ceremony.

McKeesport

McKeesport’s Veterans Day observances begin Wednesday with a 9:30 a.m. multimedia program during an assembly at McKeesport Area High School. The high school band, orchestra and choir will participate. The program is open to the public, with the district extending a special invitation to all veterans. A reception for the veterans will follow.

The city of McKeesport will mark Veterans Day with a 10:40 a.m. ceremony at the memorial along Lysle Boulevard between old city hall and the Memorial parking lot.

Toastmaster James G. Calvin of the McKeesport Memorial Day Association said the event will open with the national anthem by the McKeesport Area High School band under the direction of Karen Cole. The pledge of allegiance will follow, as well as an invocation by the Rev. Dr. Jay Geisler of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and a welcome from Mayor and state Sen.-elect Brewster.

Col. Craig L. Bollenberg Sr., a 2008 inductee into the McKeesport High School Hall of Fame, will address the ceremony. Bollenberg is director of U.S. Army Training Operations Management Activity at Ft. Monroe, Va. A flag will be retired by Sam Givens of the Memorial Day Association, after which Joe Stipkovits, who is retired from the U.S. Navy, will place a flag, and Sylvia Moidel Byer, who served as a technical sergeant in the Army medical corps during World War II, will place a wreath.

The Liberty Boro Veterans Honor Guard will offer a firearms salute. Members of the MAHS band will play taps and Mary Ann Huk of the Memorial Day Association will sing “God Bless America.” Geisler will give the benediction.

Jack Barr of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 514 is marshal for the parade that will follow at 11 a.m. on Fifth Avenue.

After the parade, at 12:15 p.m., the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club, 901 Ravine St., will conduct a ceremony at its memorial to 11 club members who died in service to their country during the Vietnam war: Norman W. Johnson, Michael J. Nemchick, James F. Brooks Jr., Tyrone G. Burse, James E. West, Gregory F. Popowitz, Curtis T. Gay, Thomas J. Sweeney, Louis H. Huff II, John A. Germek Jr. and Lee D. Thomas.

Club chairman James T. Barry Jr. will lead the ceremony with assistance from Walter B. Yager.

Brewster will give the welcoming address. Liberty Boro Veterans will provide a firearms salute under the direction of Joe Banyak. Members of the Dinkfelt family will play taps and James Young will play the bagpipes.

The club’s assistant executive director Tim Brown and other staff members will take part in the ceremony after participating in the parade. Club members are asked to meet at the club at 9:30 a.m. for flags to carry during the parade.

North Irwin

A Veterans Day luminary lighting will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. at North Irwin Park along Fourth Street. People are encouraged to donate items to be sent overseas in exchange for a red, white or blue luminary bag that will be displayed to honor a loved one.

The ceremony also will include guest speakers from different wars, and live entertainment. Information is available by calling 724-864-5057.

Norwin

Norwin School District students will learn about Veterans Day and veterans’ sacrifices in a series of educational lessons that will be presented Thursday.

“The Norwin School District wishes to recognize veterans who have served our country, and we wish to acknowledge the military men and women who continue to serve here and throughout the world,” district superintendent William Kerr said.

Hahntown Elementary School’s program will start at 9:15 a.m. as students will talk about the history of Veterans Day, recognizing the heroes who serve in the armed forces. Fourth-grade students will sing two patriotic songs. The school has invited veterans who are related to current Hahntown students to attend and be recognized for their service. The PTA will provide refreshments for the veterans following the program.

Sheridan Terrace Elementary School will begin its celebration at 9:30 a.m. with veterans who are relatives of current students. The name and rank of the veterans will be read aloud, and fourth-grade students will perform patriotic songs and readings. High school buglers will play taps, and the Norwin High School Show Choir will perform. Sheridan’s PTA will provide light refreshments.

More than 80 veterans are expected to attend Stewartsville Elementary School’s program starting at 1:45 p.m. Veterans and their guests will be treated to snacks provided by the PTA. Students in grades K-4 will wear red, white, and blue. Veterans will be honored with selected readings and patriotic songs. Teachers, staff, students and visitors will create a large wreath with red, white and blue carnations representing active, retired and deceased veterans. This wreath then will be displayed in Irwin. Because of space constraints, the program is open only to invited veterans and their guests.

At Sunset Valley Elementary School, festivities will start at 9:30 a.m. Veterans and their family members have been invited to attend. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will wear their uniforms, and all students and faculty have been asked to wear red, white, and blue clothing. Parent and veteran Andrew Capets will speak to 10 students who will share original writings that they created in writing workshop. The veterans will be recognized, and the students will sing five songs under the direction of music teacher Dan Muchoney. Afterward, the PTA will provide refreshments for the veterans.

Hillcrest Intermediate School will begin its program at 8:30 a.m. Students and staff will recognize veterans who are family members of students. As they enter the building, veterans and guests will be greeted by a carnation presented by Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. After the Boy Scouts post the colors, 29 sixth-grade students will share the history of Veterans Day and introduce the veterans in attendance. Soldiers currently deployed also will be honored. Throughout the program, the sixth-grade students will sing patriotic songs under the direction of music teachers Jennifer Herrington and Lynn Spiegel. Following taps, played by two sixth-grade trumpeters, the colors will be retired in a ceremony. Refreshments, provided by the Hillcrest PTA, will be served to the veterans.

During morning homeroom, the Norwin High School Show Choir will sing the national anthem and a U.S. armed forces medley. Donald Kattic, commander of Irwin/North Huntingdon VFW Post No. 781, will deliver a Veteran’s Day address. Kattic is a Korean War veteran and retired Norwin teacher who will share his thoughts on the meaning of Veterans Day. Kattic then will lead the pledge of allegiance. Students will view a short tribute to veterans entitled “They Who Serve,” produced by the Department of Veterans Affairs. That will be followed by a video segment depicting soldiers returning home to their families. Staff members who served in the armed forces will be recognized. In the afternoon prior to dismissal, students again will be reminded of the significance of the day, and the show choir will sing “God Bless America.”

Norwin Middle School students will view a segment of the Veterans Day address by Kattic. Students also will read Veteran’s Day-inspired poems on the morning announcements. Student council president Trey Quealy and his student committee will create an oversized tribute flag in a first-floor hallway. The oversized U.S. flag will be made up of photos and names of local veterans who are serving or who have served. Student council members also are collecting donated items for the VA Hospital.

South Allegheny

South Allegheny Middle/High School will host a program to honor veterans Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in the high school auditorium. It is open to the community, and refreshments will be served.

South Allegheny Early Childhood Center will conduct a Veterans Day flag ceremony Thursday at 10:30 a.m., with a luncheon to follow at 11 a.m. The event is open to veterans only.

Steel Valley

The 28th annual Steel Valley Veterans Day program will be in Steel Valley High School’s auditorium with the theme “Service and Sacrifice.” Franklin Primary kindergarten students will sing “Grande Ole Flag.”

Winners of an elementary poster competition and secondary school essay contest will be announced. Elementary school students designed posters in their art classes coordinated by teachers Amanda Linder and Rosalyn Stulga. Secondary students wrote essays in their social studies classes before the event as well.

A committee of English teachers will select essay winners and a group of veterans will choose the poster winners.

The band and chorus lead by Sharon Ellis and Rebecca Russell will perform during the program. There will be a video tribute to veterans created by gifted students and teacher Michelle Maddigan.

High School student Aaron Bott will be sworn into the Marines during the assembly, as well.

All veterans are welcome to come and be recognized at the program.

On Friday, Park Elementary’s Veterans Day program will honor relatives of its students who’ve served in the armed forces. Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts will present the colors with the Girl Scouts assisting.

Principal Bryan Macuga said the most anticipated portion of the program for the veterans is when the theme song from their branch of service is played as they stand to be acknowledged.

Those currently serving in the military also will be honored. A roll call will be read at the end of the program and fifth-grader Madison Forney will play taps.

Barrett Elementary hosted its Veterans Day program last Friday at William Campbell Recreational and Educational Center Gymnasium with students in first through fifth grade making oral presentations, singing and dancing to honor veterans. There was a reception in the school office for veterans.

West Mifflin

West Mifflin Area High School, 91 Commonwealth Ave., will host a program to honor veterans Wednesday at 9 a.m., featuring the high school Air Force Junior ROTC.

Emerson Elementar will give tribute to past, present and future veterans during its Veterans Day celebration called “Give Me Tomorrow” on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. There will be a flag ceremony, music, honored guests and guest speakers. The public is invited to attend.

Wilmerding

A Veterans Day program is slated for Thursday at 11 a.m. at the borough building. It will feature locxal pastors and other speakers.

Staff writers Patrick Cloonan, Michael DiVittorio, Stacy Lee and Eric Slagle contributed to this story.


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