Fayette to hold Veterans Day Parade Monday in Masontown

| Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

The Fayette County Veterans Day Parade, organized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4584, will take place on Monday in Masontown.

Invitations for participation were sent to VFW posts in the county, more than two dozen American Legions, Rolling Thunder, Vietnam Veterans of Fayette County, two AMVETS (American Veterans) posts, DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Chapter in Hopwood, Order of the Purple Heart, all the high school bands, some junior high bands, high school ROTCs, Connellsville Area High School Patriots, politicians at all levels, fire departments, car clubs, Scouts, the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAC and more.

The parade will form in front of Haky Funeral Home and begin at 10:45 a.m.

“Confirmed marching units will include bands from Connellsville Area High School, Albert Gallatin, Laurel Highlands and Uniontown. We will also have honor guards from area towns,” said John Chatlak, commander of Masontown VFW Post 4584. “We expect to be to the middle of town in about 15 minutes, where we will stop, and our Masontown VFW will fire a salute, and the Albert Gallatin band will play echo taps in memory of the deceased from every war.”

He added that quite a few fire companies, such as Adah, Ronco, Edenborn, McClellandtown and Masontown, will participate.

“We are also expecting fire companies such as Connellsville and Uniontown if available. We will have veterans officials from the district and the county riding in cars. Rolling Thunder will be in the parade, and I've asked many others.”

The parade rotates between three Fayette County cities: Connellsville, Uniontown and Masontown. Last year it was held in Connellsville. Spectators and marching units go to the host city each year.

“I've been getting a lot of cooperation,” Chatlak said. “This is my first venture at organizing the Veterans Day Parade. I'm especially grateful for the help I've received from Glenn Siple and Lou Giachetti, who have gone through this planning a number of times. Others, too.

“The members of the Masontown American Legion are helping me and Madonna Nicklow, who is going to assist with parade lineup. The mayor of Masontown, Toni Petras, has given her support with all the planning, and the police force will maintain order for us.

“We will place a wreath at our VFW Memorial at the conclusion of the parade. We will have a ceremony there,” he said.

American flags will be placed all along the parade route on Sunday in preparation.

“VFW Post 21 here in Connellsville will be represented at the parade this year, and I expect that American Legion Post 301 will also,” said Tom McFadden, secretary of the Connellsville Veterans Commission. “We still have soldiers in harm's way, and we need to remember that, as well as all of those who have given of their time and many their lives so that we can have the freedoms we have today.”

“Most of our World War II veterans have passed away. I'm a Korean War veteran, and there aren't too many of us left either,” Chatlak said. “I am hoping that we can pass this honored tradition down to the younger veterans so that we can continue this every year.”

Connellsville is the birthplace of Veterans Day with Max C. Floto, the “Father of Armistice Day,” and Thomas W. Scott credited with the holiday.

Floto entered the Army in 1918. He returned home to Connellsville at the end of World War I and became a founding member of the city's American Legion post. At the second meeting of the Milton Bishop Post 301 in early 1919, Floto made a motion to promote Nov. 11, the date of the war's armistice, as a national observance. That step, strongly supported by his fellow veterans, was the first in an effort that took nearly two decades of determination and work to finally get the national holiday of Veterans Day federally designated.

Floto and fellow veteran Scott served as delegates to the state American Legion convention in Harrisburg later that year where they gained the support of the state group. Floto then went to Harrisburg and was successful in persuading Gov. William Sproul to issue a proclamation for the observance that year in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, the state Legislature passed an act that made the holiday official in the state.

The two men still had much to do. They became delegates to the first national convention of the American Legion. There their holiday resolution was the second passed by the new organization's national body.

It took the federal government 19 years, until May 13, 1938, to make Veterans Day a national holiday. Until that was achieved, Floto and supporters worked with congressmen and others. Nearly every year, a resolution was presented in Congress to no avail until President Franklin D. Roosevelt finally signed the bill, designating Armistice Day a national holiday in the United States.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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