Supporters brave cold during Veterans Day services
By the time the Veterans Day parade started in Uniontown, the sun had gone behind the clouds and the breeze had picked up.
But those who braved the cold along the parade route greeted the veterans from the wars starting with World War II up to those veterans who served overseas in the Middle East. High school and grade school bands, fire departments, church groups, local officials, a rescue unit and politicians all walked the streets with the veterans.
Bob Akers, 63, of Connellsville and his granddaughter, Kara Stimmel of Scottdale, waited patiently on East Penn Street by Storey Park for the parade to begin.
“I served during the Vietnam era but did not go to Vietnam,” Akers said. He was on call to go from Germany to Vietnam, but each call was canceled.
Anthony Bianchi, 70, a former Connellsville resident who is living in a personal care home, sat in his wheelchair along Main Street in the company of other veterans. Bianchi served from 1963 to 1972, including a tour in Vietnam.
Helping Bianchi was Don Harria of West Mifflin, who served from 1972 to 1974 as a tank commander. He also served in Vietnam. His civilian skills, working on Cadillac motors before entering the military, helped channel his military career. He said the tanks ran on Cadillac motors.
Michael Hice, 39, of Masontown was upset by the small size of the crowd, especially compared with the Halloween parade a few weeks earlier. He was upset enough to post his displeasure on Facebook while he waited for the parade to begin.
Andrea and Rylan Myers of Uniontown were waiting for the parade so they could see their granddaughter, who was a member of one of the bands. They were also out to support a grandson who is a member of the military.
George Shoaf, 66, of Uniontown, a member of Vietnam Veterans Inc., of Fayette County, stood in uniform along Main Street, waiting for the parade to begin. He served in Vietnam from July 1968 to September 1969.
Josh Reed of Uniontown and his son, Mark, 4, and wife, Megan, watched the parade units roll by. Reed, a veteran of the first Gulf War, said his fellow soldiers were well treated when they came back, unlike the veterans of Vietnam.
Michael Meyokovich, standing along the parade route in his Army fatigues, said he served in the Marines from 1971 through 1975, including a tour in Vietnam. In 1991 he went back into the military, serving until 2008.
After the parade, veterans and officials moved to American Legion Post 51 for speeches and a luncheon.
The post honored Deborah Hull, a Gold Star mother, whose son Raymond was killed in August 2003 in Iraq.
Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-626-3538.