Thousands of people lined downtown Johnstown streets Monday afternoon to honor veterans during the 17th annual Veterans Day Parade.
Because it is the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, Korean War veterans received a special recognition at the event.
“I came here to honor the soldiers,” said Richard Frank of Elton as he watched the parade with his wife, Phyllis. “It’s because of what they have done for our country.”
The Franks’ grandson, Jesse Frank of Johnstown, just returned from serving with the Air Force in Afghanistan and is headed to Japan.
Greg Slagle of Hollsopple, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, was at the parade to watch his daughter, Victoria, march with the Bishop McCort High School band.
It’s important to honor veterans for their sacrifices and for what they have done for the country, he said.
Valerie Thompson of Johnstown, whose late father, Martin Campanella Sr., and brothers, Marty and Philip Campanella, are veterans, was at the parade to honor all who have served.
“My dad was one of the proudest Americans I have ever known,” she said.
Charles Casey of Johnstown said his son, Brian, had served in Iraq and was highly decorated.
“I’m here to support all the troops,” he said.
Friends Michele Zahurak and Amy Dunbar of Johnstown and Abbie Schrecengost of Strongstown had their pet dogs at their sides while they honored the troops.
Zahurak’s husband, Jason, and Schrecengost’s husband, Kevin, both have returned from Afghanistan and were marching in the parade.
Dunbar said it was important for the three of them to honor the veterans because they have defended our country, and in so doing, gave us the freedoms that we have.
A ceremony was held in Central Park after the parade.
The Conemaugh Valley Marine Corps League presented the colors and Post 155, Veterans of Foreign Wars conducted flag-raising and flag-lowering ceremonies.
St. Francis University marching band played patriotic music.
Marty Kuhar, master of ceremonies, said Veterans Day in Johns-town is alive and well thanks to area residents.
Guest speakers Lt. Col. Craig Minnick, an Iraq War veteran, and Lowell Shaffer, a Korean War veteran, both praised the efforts of veterans to keep the nation and the world free.
State Rep. Keith Rothfus,
R-Sewickley, said it was a privilege to be at the event to honor veterans.
“We honor you all,” he said. “God bless our veterans.”
To further observe Veterans Day, St. Francis University of Loretto played the Naval Academy in a basketball game Monday naight at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
M. John Mavrodis, who serves on the arena’s board of directors, said everyone appreciates and is thankful for our veterans.
“It’s nice to have the Naval Academy playing on Veterans Day against St. Francis,” he said.
Ben Casto, who was at the game with his son, Jonathan, said his daughter, Morgan, was watching the game with her Bishop McCort basketball teammates.
He said it was great to watch St. Francis play a military school on Veterans Day.
“What more can you ask for?” he said.
Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/FrankNews10.