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Volunteers decorate veterans' graves with geraniums at Verona Cemetery in Oakmont

Michael DiVittorio
| Sunday, May 27, 2018, 3:00 p.m.
Volunteer David Fusaro helps plant the 650 geranium plants at the grave sites of area veterans in preparation for the annual Memorial Day remembrance at the Verona Cementery in Oakmont on Saturday, May 26, 2018. Fusaro volunteered with the Oakmont Garden Club to help with the Oakmont Lions Club project.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Volunteer David Fusaro helps plant the 650 geranium plants at the grave sites of area veterans in preparation for the annual Memorial Day remembrance at the Verona Cementery in Oakmont on Saturday, May 26, 2018. Fusaro volunteered with the Oakmont Garden Club to help with the Oakmont Lions Club project.
Volunteer Ralph Hays of the Oakmont Lions Club helps plant 650 geraniums at the grave sites of veterans in preparation for the annual Memorial Day remembrance at the Verona Cemetery in Oakmont on Saturday morning, May 26, 2018.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Volunteer Ralph Hays of the Oakmont Lions Club helps plant 650 geraniums at the grave sites of veterans in preparation for the annual Memorial Day remembrance at the Verona Cemetery in Oakmont on Saturday morning, May 26, 2018.

Memorial Day is a national holiday in May designed to honor the men and women who died in service of their country.

Parades and services will take place on Monday to do just that.

Oakmont Lions Club members and a host of other volunteers wanted to do their part to prepare veterans' graves at the Verona Cemetery in Oakmont for the borough's ceremony by planting geraniums Saturday.

“There are a number of vets from as far back as the Civil War,” club secretary Gary Rogers said. “We realize that many no longer have families who decorate their graves.”

The club bought more than 600 geraniums to decorate the graves.

Event coordinator Diane Harrell said between 60 to 65 people volunteered to help, same as last year.

“This is our second year doing the geranium planting, and we think we have it figured out,” she said. “They're a beautiful shade of deep red, and planted near the flags they look beautiful.

“The generosity of the volunteers is amazing. They're very hard-working and feel very passionate about the project. I feel this is the least you can do for those who gave their time and lives for our country. This is a small thank you.”

Harrell said the geranium planting project was inspired by wreath planting at Arlington National Cemetery during the Christmas season.

She connected with the Lions Club and got the word out through the borough's newsletter.

“I thought I needed an organization behind me, and I bet we could get volunteers,” she said. “People were so grateful someone was doing a project like this. And people who couldn't help physically helped financially. It was amazing; same thing this year.”

Parade set for Memorial Day morning

Verona and Oakmont have a combined Memorial Day service. A parade starts 9:30 a.m. Monday on James Street in Verona.

It travels along Allegheny River Boulevard to Pennsylvania Avenue in Oakmont, then up that road to the cemetery where a service is slated for 11 a.m.

A community chorus and the Riverview High School marching band will provide music. Guest speaker Army Col. Steven Romitti, 307th Medical Brigade chief of operations will read the names of local veterans who died last year.

Local Vietnam and World War II veterans will be recognized at the event.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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