Summer unofficially kicks off with Memorial Day services
As area residents gather to celebrate the unofficial beginning of summer, many also will join together to honor the men and women who have served their country.
Memorial Day services will take place in communities throughout the Mon Valley, honoring veterans with parades, speakers and luncheons. The day began as a way to honor Union soldiers who died during the Civil War but was expanded after World War I to include soldiers who died in all wars.
In Irwin, the annual parade is back after a one-year hiatus. Construction from a state-mandated sewer separation project left the traditional parade route difficult to travel.
This year's parade begins at Second Street and continues to Pennsylvania Avenue in the borough's downtown. Floats are featured, all with a Memorial Day appropriate theme.
"We're really trying to bring back some patriotism in this country," said Don Kattic, commander of the J. Howard Snyder VFW Post No. 781 in North Huntingdon Township. "We will never forget the veterans. They are the ones who paid the ultimate price in the past wars and conflicts."
Community groups and veterans organizations will march in the parade, with a program and luncheon to follow at the VFW post, 100 Billott Ave., North Huntingdon Township.
American Legion Post 75 and city officials will host a joint Memorial Day service Monday beginning at 10 a.m. The parade lineup is at the Clairton Education Center, with the parade following Miller Avenue to the municipal building. A service at the municipal building will follow the parade.
American Legion Post 380 will conduct services Sunday at 1 p.m. in Richland Cemetery. Speakers are state Sen. Bill Kortz, D-Dravosburg, and former Allegheny County Commissioner Larry Dunn. Guests are invited to meet at the Legion, 51 Duquesne Ave., at 12:30 p.m. to be transported to the cemetery and return after for a banquet lunch.
VFW Post No. 7632 and American Legion Post 553 will host a Memorial Day parade and ceremony Monday beginning at 9:30 a.m. Veterans will be honored with a small flag with their name displayed at the Elizabeth Honor Roll. A luncheon at Elizabeth
Volunteer Fire Department social hall will follow.
American Legion Post 443 will host a Memorial Day service Monday at 5 p.m. at the borough's honor roll along Monongahela Avenue. A dinner will follow in the American Legion hall.
Jefferson Hills will celebrate Memorial Day on Monday at 10 a.m. beginning at the memorial outside the Floreffe Fire Hall with a brief service. There will then be a parade from the fire hall to Lobbs Park, with members of the Thomas Jefferson High School band participating.
The Lobbs service will feature an invocation, guest speakers, benediction, and placing of a wreath. The Thomas Jefferson High School band will perform patriotic music. Guests will be invited back to the fire hall for free refreshments.
Lincoln will have its annual Memorial Day ceremony on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Lincoln VFRC Memorial Fire Hall. Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey will be a special guest.
Memorial Day observances begin Monday in McKeesport with ceremonies at 9:40 a.m., followed by a parade down Fifth Avenue through the downtown business district beginning at 10 a.m.
At the honor roll, Jan Flegal of the city's Memorial Day Association will place a wreath while American Legion Post 666 Commander Sam Givens will place the flag.
Cliff Flegal of VFW Post 514 will be parade marshal, with American Legion Post 947 Commander Jack Lawson serving as chief of staff.
Downtown observances are in honor of the late longtime Memorial Day parade organizer Frank J. Marino.
Additional services will take place at LaRosa Boys & Girls Club, 901 Ravine St., where one of the nation's oldest Vietnam War memorials is located.
Eleven club members Norman W. Johnson, Michael J. Nemchick, James F. Brooks Jr., Tyrone G. Burse, James E. West, Gregory F. Popowitz, Curtis T. Gay, Thomas J. Sweeney, Louis H. Huff II, John A. Germek Jr. and Lee D. Thomas were killed in action during the Vietnam conflict.
Robert W. Pochciol, who recently succeeded Thomas Maglicco as club executive director, said the ceremony will take place at approximately 11 a.m., with LaRosa president Jim Barry, board treasurer Walt Yager and board member Sue Striffler Galaski leading the ceremony.
Mayor James Brewster will give the welcoming address, Port Vue-Liberty Veterans will provide a rifle volley and Carolyn, Brad and Brian Dinkfelt will sound "Taps."
Others scheduled to take part in the club's program include the Michael J. Nemchick Chapter 9 of the Order of the Purple Heart, AMVETS Post 8, American Legion posts 361 and 666, the Vietnam Era Veterans post, Jewish War Veterans Post 181, VFW Post 514, Catholic War Veterans Post 1559, Desert Storm veterans, Allied Veterans Officers and Disabled American Veterans Chapter 76.
Pochciol said club members should meet at the Ravine Street location at 9 a.m. to receive flags for participation, along with the staff, in the parade.
The Tenth Ward Veterans Memorial committee and West Side United Methodist Church also will sponsor a Memorial Day service Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the Tenth Ward Memorial Park.
A memorial service will take place at the church at 11:30 a.m. followed by a procession of flags to the park.
Munhall and the Charles L. Griffin Memorial Day Committee are sponsoring a parade on Monday at 9:30 a.m. Line-up is at 9 a.m. at the Steel Valley High School parking lot.
The parade will travel down Main Street to Homestead Cemetery, where at 10 a.m. the Rev. Joseph Grosko of St. Agnes Parish in West Mifflin will conduct a memorial ceremony. Festivities will be followed by a social at the Munhall municipal building along West Street.
The public is invited to a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday at 11 a.m. in the Veteran's Section of Jefferson Memorial Cemetery with guest speakers, performances by Thomas Jefferson High School band and choir and guest vocalist Samantha Middlemiss. The Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, American Legion Post 712 Color Guard and others will also be featured. A dozen American Legion riders will lead the procession to the veteran's section.
Flowers will be for sale on site and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Fisher House Organization.
Port Vue will have a Memorial Day parade on Sunday at 1 p.m. from American Legion Post 447 to the Port Vue War Memorial on Romine Avenue, where there will be a service. South Allegheny High School marching band will perform and veteran Mark Suckfiel will be a guest speaker.
West Elizabeth will have a Memorial Day ceremony on Sunday at 9 a.m. at the West Elizabeth War Memorial along Route 837.
A ceremony will take place today at 10 a.m. at Mitchell Paige Park. Honored guest will be Col. Craig Bollenberg.
Memorial Day services will begin Monday at 8 a.m. in the borough park and will include speeches from local officials. Refreshments will be served following the program.
Whitaker is sponsoring a parade on Sunday at 1 p.m. Line-up is at 12:30 p.m. near the intersection of W. Larkspur Street and Whitaker Way. The parade will be followed by a service at the borough fire hall at 239 Church St.
White Oak and White Oak American Legion Post 701 are sponsoring a parade Monday at noon. Line-up is at Willard Street and Lincoln Way at 11:30 a.m.
The parade will travel down Lincoln Way to the American Legion post along Pennsylvania Avenue, and Memorial Day services will take place at the post following the parade.
Versailles is sponsoring a Memorial Day service on Sunday at the war memorial next to the borough building at 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be served afterward at the borough building in council chambers.
Staff writers Patrick Cloonan, Michael DiVittorio, Stacy Lee, Eric Slagle and Jennifer R. Vertullo contributed to this story.