Courage, devotion, patriotism and sacrifice - words that encapsulate our nation’s veterans.
In honor of men and women who have served in the U.S. military, Conemaugh Valley Veterans and Greater Johnstown School District held its 14th annual Veterans Day breakfast Thursday at East Side Elementary School.
“It’s a way for us to all get together and pause and say thank you to our veterans,” said Jerry Zahorchak, superintendent of Greater Johnstown School District. “The community and young people have to remember that we don’t have our freedoms by chance, so that’s brought to life at an event like this.”
About 160 veterans of all ages from the five military branches - Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard - were in attendance.
The veterans were treated to a performance by East Side pupils who wore patriotic costumes and spoke on the history of each military branch in a salute to the Armed Forces.
Pupils also lead the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and a Johnstown High School student sang the National Anthem.
Carl Mahan of Johnstown said he’s been coming to the breakfast since its inception.
“It’s a good event and I get to see people I know and I enjoy seeing the show the kids put on,” the Korean War Army vet said.
Navy veteran Red Freidhoff was at the breakfast for the first time and said he wished he started coming sooner because it’s worth attending.
“It’s nice that the community recognize the vets,” the Johnstown resident said. “It’s also nice of the students to do this and explain the military history.”
Ed Wojnaroski and Tom Caufield, members of Conemaugh Valley Veterans offered remarks, and the program came to a close with the playing of Taps.
Zahorchak said the event has grown over the years and he’s pleased to see how engaged community leaders are in making it a success.
“I hope this will inspire young people to serve country above self and that it’s important to be engaged citizens,” he said.