Veterans Day parade draws crowd under sunny skies
By Rick Wills
Published: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, 12:38 p.m.
Bernard Queneau wonders why so many people pay so little attention to the war in Afghanistan.
“Today, we are in a war but no one would know it except for the 1 percent,” said Queneau, who turned 100 in July. By 1 percent, he was referring to the 1 percent of the U.S. population who serves in the armed forces.
“Having the military draft would make this country a lot more democratic,” said Queneau, a metallurgist, who in 1939, left a job at Columbia University to join the Navy Reserves. He was stationed at the Navy Proving Grounds at Dalhlgren, Va., during World War II.
On Saturday, Queneau was among nearly 700 people who attended a Veterans Day Breakfast at Duquesne University — one of several events throughout the region to honor veterans, including a parade Downtown and a ceremony on the North Shore honoring the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.Queneau was born in 1912 in Belgium to a French father and an American mother. His father, Augustin Queneau, served in the French Army in World War I. His maternal grandfather, Henry Blaisdell, was a member of the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and was injured at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse in Virginia in 1864.
Queneau's remark about the draft echoed those by retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, a native of the North Side and the event's keynote speaker.
“One percent is defending 99 percent. I don't know what that means in terms of democracy. But that is a very unequal burden,” said Hayden, a former director of the CIA and of the National Security Agency.
Hayden, a graduate of North Catholic High School and Duquesne, spoke to the crowd about military and government service, including his visits to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, which he said likely helped him than the wounded.
“I was there once in uniform. This kid who lost his leg in the last 10 days, he saw the four stars and stood up,” Hayden said.
Duquesne University; Friends of Danang, a group that raises money for humanitarian projects in the Vietnamese city of Danang; and the Shepherd's Heart Veterans Home hosted the breakfast.
Those who have sacrificed to serve in the military often face many problems once back home, said the Rev. Mike Wurschmidt, executive director of the Shepherd's Heart Veterans Home in Uptown, which provides transitional housing. About 33 percent of the homeless people in Pittsburgh are veterans, he said. “Many have trauma, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), drug and alcohol problems. It's been very hard for many returning veterans to find work,” Wurschmidt said.
About 15,000 people attended the parade, said Anthony Falardi, adjutant of the Federation of War Veterans' Societies of Allegheny County, which sponsored it. Those watching, who included veterans in uniform, waved small American flags under sunny skies and with temperatures reaching the 60s.
The parade featured 122 units, including 17 high school bands, who marched along a new route from Grant Street to Liberty Avenue, then to Stanwix Street and finishing at the Boulevard of the Allies.
Haya Eason, 49, of Bethel Park, who served in the Marine Corps for nine years, attends the parade every year and said she would like to see schools do more to commemorate patriotic holidays.
“I always offer to speak at my daughter's school on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day,” she said.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Colts executive Polian: Approach free agency with caution
- With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
- Steelers defense doesn’t make the grade in 2013 review
- Pirates’ big risk with pitch-heavy draft focus might soon pay off
- Pitt rallies in final seconds of regulation en route to OT win at Clemson
- Experts: Anti-vaccine view a peril
- Fashion essentials: Pittsburgh’s style watchers tell what they can’t live without
- Stats Corner: McCutchen’s contract extension brings huge cost savings
- Greensburg bishop’s time at helm draws to a close
- Harsh winter sets back Western Pa. maple harvest
- Ukrainians steel to resist Russian aggression