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Veterans Day parade draws crowd under sunny skies

| Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, 12:38 p.m.
Tribune-Review
Handmade cards for veterans line a table at the largest Veterans Day breakfast in Pennsylvania at Duquesne University on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Around 700 veterans, their friends and family showed up to participate in the Fourteenth Annual Veterans Day Breakfast, followed by a veterans story telling time. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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Winston Churchill, the Three Rivers Leatherneck Attachment 310 mascot, waits for the Veterans Day Parade to start in his Semper Fi bandana Downtown on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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Marine Karl Wilzer, 68, of Ross Township, holds the Three Rivers Leatherneck Attachment 310 flag Veterans Day Parade Downtown on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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Cheerleaders walk down Liberty Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade Downtown on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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A spectator at the Veterans Day Parade Downtown applauds as the parade passes by on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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Bill Walsh, 69, of Baldwin and Christine Fantini, 69, of Brentwood, sport the Stars and Stripes to the Veterans Day Parade Downtown on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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The Kendrick Family, of the North Side and Sheraden, waves the American Flag as the Veterans Day Parade passes down Liberty Avenue Downtown on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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The North Hills High School Fighting Indian Marching Band passes by a bus of girls watching out the windows during the Veterans Day Parade Downtown on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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Pittsburgh Firefighters Memorial Pipe Band member John Walsh, 52, of Brookline, warms up for the Veterans Day Parade Downtown on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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Lucille Aiello of Monroeville was one of 15,000 attendees showing their appreciation during the 93rd Veterans Day Parade on Saturday in Pittsburgh. Her son, who is in the Reserves, was marching in the parade. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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Veteran Bernard R. Queneau, 100, of Scott Township poses for a portrait at the Fourteenth Annual Veterans Day Breakfast at Duquesne University on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Queneau, who turned 100 years old this past July, served in World War II, along with his brother. His grandfather served in the Civil War and his father served in World War I. 'Today we're at war, but you'd never know it,' said Queneau. 'In World War II we were really a nation, we weren't just depending on one percent of the population to deal with the war.' Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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Key note speaker General Michael Hayden speaks to a crowd of around 700 people at the Fourteenth Annual Veterans Day Breakfast at Duquesne University, the largest Veterans Day breakfast in Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 10, 2012. General Hayden is a retired US Air Force general and grew up in Pittsburgh's North Side. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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Veterans salute a table with an empty chair symbolizing prisoners of war and missing in action that were left behind during a ceremony held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the North Shore on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
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People gather at a ceremony in honor of Veterans Day held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the North Shore on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review

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 rwills@tribweb.com.

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