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Area Veterans Day observances set Saturday, Sunday, Monday

BY LOUISE F. FRITZ
Bulletin Lifestyles Editor
Sally and (right) James Hook, married for 77 years, show the afghan flag presented to them at their home in Derry as part of the observance of November as Home Care and Hospice Month — as well as Veterans Day on Sunday, Nov. 11 — accompanied by their Excela Health nurse, Angela Mainini, home health aide. As part of the Excela Health Hospice “Caring Hands Volunteers” program, afghans and quilts are created for hospice patients. For those who are veterans, the goal is to provide a patriotic-themed item to honor and celebrate the patient’s military service and to present the gift close to or on Veterans Day. James Hook served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, World War II Victory Medal and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbon with one Bronze Star for his service. Sally Hook is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 444 Ladies Auxiliary, having been a member for 65 years. The Hooks said they would like to see current veterans and spouses get more involved locally, in order to lean on each other and pay it forward to other veterans. Photo by Ernie SistekThis year’s Veterans Day observances, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10, through Monday, Nov. 12, in area communities, will be in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice.
Known at the time as “The Great War,” World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. It was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required “the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the nation’s history” and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 (making it a legal holiday) by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.”
With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor “American veterans of all wars.”
LATROBE
Thomas B. Anderson American Legion Post 515 and Paul Lizza Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3414 are sponsoring the City of Latrobe Veterans Day observance Monday, Nov. 12, starting with the 10 a.m. parade followed by the program in Veterans Memorial Plaza.
Parade participants will assemble 9:30 a.m. at St. Clair and Ligonier streets and move out promptly at 10 a.m. on Ligonier Street to Weldon and Jefferson streets, Memorial Drive and Veterans Memorial Plaza.


On the 2018 program submitted by the committee are greetings by master of ceremonies Merle Brown, past commander of Post 3414; invocation and benediction by Rhonda Whatule, chaplain of Post 515; Pledge of Allegiance by Rosie Moff Wolford, mayor of Latrobe; musical selections by Greater Latrobe Senior High School Band under the direction of Tim Sheridan; an address by retired Lt. Col. William E. Lozier of Unity Township, and a rifle salute by Post 515 and Post 3414 Firing Squad.
Lozier, a decorated 28-year veteran of the U.S. Army, served at Fort Benning, Georgia; Washington, D.C.; Indianapolis, Indiana; Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Fort Riley, Kansas. He was deployed to Germany, Korea and Vietnam. During those times he held many positions and received 18 awards and decorations for them.
After 28 years in the service, the lieutenant colonel retired to Maryland. He became a financial programmer for military families for 10 years.
He has been a Legionnaire for 39 continuous years. A 1950 graduate of Ramsay High School, he resides in Unity Township with his wife, Joanne. Together they have five children, Bill, David, Amy, Marianne and Linda, and five grandchildren.
In addition, these organizations and their representatives will be introduced Monday morning at Veterans Memorial Plaza: VFW Post 3414, Laura McCartney, commander; American Legion Post 515, Barry Novosel, commander; Marine Corps League, George Wegley, commander; Ladies’ Auxiliary to VFW Post 3414, Kristy Murphy, president; Sons of the American Legion, Shawn Gracie, commander; American Legion Auxiliary Thomas B. Anderson Unit 515, Janet Penrose, president; Sons of the American Revolution, Duane Miller; Daughters of the American Revolution, Mary Ellen Neff-Miller; Mayor Wolford; Latrobe Volunteer Fire Department, John Brasile, chief; Boy Scouts; Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts.
Serving on the committee this year are Ralph Patterson, Brown, Novosel, Earl Penrose, William Tompko, Larry Lowden and Murphy.
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The American Legion Post 515 will hold its annual Legionnaire Early Bird Membership Luncheon from noon to 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at the post home, 1811 Ligonier St.
Novosel said, “All Legionnaires with their 2019 dues paid on or before Nov. 12 are encouraged to attend.”
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Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3414 will have its annual Banquet 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at the post home on Spring Street.
Murphy said the banquet is open to “all veterans, auxiliary members and their spouses or guest.”
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Art Dira of the Veterans Memorial Committee announced the following names have been added to the granite markers at Veterans Memorial Plaza in time for this Veterans Day observance: Edward J. Zoppetti, David E. Zoppetti, John Zomisky, Stephen L. Marincheck and Glenn E. Bush.
Dira added, “We also received the names of Floyd H. Menzie and James A. Parizek, but they were too late for this year’s list. They will be added for Memorial Day.”
The memorial consists of the names of honorably discharged veterans and those currently serving, whether living or deceased. To have a veteran’s name added to the memorial in time for Memorial Day 2019, contact Dira at 724-539-8095.
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UNITY TOWNSHIP
The Unity Township American Legion Post 982 Veterans Day celebration is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at the post home, according to Amy Johnson, trustee.
There will be two guest speakers, including retired Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Judge John J. Driscoll.
The traditional luncheon will be served to the veterans and their guests following the program.
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BLAIRSVILLE
Vic Nastase, superintendent of both the Blairsville and SS. Simon and Jude cemeteries, announced the schedule for the Veterans Day flag display as follows:
Saturday, Nov. 10, American flags will be up at 9 a.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 13, all flags will be taken down starting at 9 a.m.
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Blairsville’s annual Veterans Day parade will begin 10:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 12.
Blairsville American Legion Post 407 Commander Bill Swanson said the parade will travel down Market Street from the football field to the Blairsville Borough war memorial, where a ceremony will take place.
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The Blairsville Community Concert Band will perform its annual Veterans Day concert 7 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Blairsville High School Center for the Performing Arts.
Organizers said all are welcome to honor the flag and thank our veterans. The program will begin with the presentation of the colors.
The band is directed by Dave Brozeski and assisted by Don Varula. The volunteer members of the live instrumental band are from Blairsville, Indiana and surrounding communities.
Organizers said the event’s patriotic music “will jog your memory and touch your heart.” The concert will feature popular songs of all eras and classic patriotic marches, including the “Armed Forces Salute.”
Admission to the concert is free, but donations will be accepted to purchase music and small supplies for the band’s performances.
For more about the band, visit www.bccband.com or search Bccband on Facebook.
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LIGONIER
Since Veterans Day falls on Sunday this year, Byers-Tosh Post 267 American Legion and Fort Ligonier Post 734 Veterans of Foreign Wars decided to host a joint Veterans Day program 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, on the Ligonier Diamond, according to Roy Hutchinson, Post 267 commander.
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At 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, in the Ligonier Valley High School auditorium, a 45-minute program honoring veterans will be performed by the Air Force Junior ROTC cadets at LVHS. It is open to the public.
The 86 cadets will take part in various capacities, including sound, lighting etc. They will post colors and then honor those who are still missing in action with a MIA and POW ceremony. Names will be read of four local individuals who are considered missing in action.
At least two cadets who have written essays describing what Veterans Day means to them will read their essays. There will be a slide show of those the cadets would like to recognize in their own family or friends of the family who have served.
A special guest of honor will be recognized along with a couple of other special activities to honor veterans. The veterans in the audience will be asked to stand while the service songs are played.
A spokesman added, “We do our best to show these men and women that we thank them for serving their country. It would be nice if the auditorium was full of community members to help us show the respect that these folks deserve.”
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BELLS OF PEACE
Pittsburgh’s two historic cemeteries, Allegheny and Homewood, will participate in the Bells of Peace, a national remembrance of those who served in the First World War. The tolling of these bells is to signify the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which brought an end to World War I at the 11th hour on the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918.
Allegheny spokeswoman Nancy E. Foley noted, “On Sunday, Nov. 11, our bells will ring out 21 times to represent November 1918 (1+1 for the month of November, then 1+9+1+8) for the year.”
116,516 Americans perished in service of the United States of America during the First World War, and several hundred of Pittsburgh’s fallen World War I soldiers rest at Allegheny (founded in 1844) and Homewood (1878). The Bells of Peace will honor the memory of the fallen and remind the public of the ultimate sacrifice they made.
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Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie Announces 
the New VA.gov website

A MESSAGE FROM THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AND INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
 

See Video Here 
Fellow VA Employees, since my arrival, you’ve heard me talk repeatedly about my main priority as Secretary: to give our customers the best possible experience the minute they encounter VA. I’m excited to announce that this Veterans Day, we’re going to do just that with the launch of the new VA.gov. What makes me most proud of this effort is that every corner of VA came together – across all offices and organizational boundaries – to listen to our customers and put Veterans first. Over 10 Million people visit VA’s websites each month. Many have a frustrating experience. They can’t find the tools and services they need. They’re confused by multiple VA brands.
In fact, one Veteran said, “I have no handle on VA…the hospitals are the only thing I can put my head around. There’s no storefront, no website.” How do we know this? We talked to them. In fact, we talked to 5,000 of them. But more importantly, we listened to what they had to say. Based on what we heard, we’re giving Veterans an easy way to log in on a centralized home page, access to the 20 top tasks 80% of them need most, standard design to eliminate confusion across VA services, and a personalized profile where they can do basic things like update their name and address in one location.
With just that one update, the information will flow across the VHA and VBA border continuing updates across multiple systems.
When we showed our customers these changes, they said: “Since you’ve updated it, it seems to send a message that VA cares enough to try to make it more accessible.” And “VA has pivoted from focusing on the organizational structure to helping me as a Veteran.” While this is just a first step in our digital modernization process it’s a major leap forward for providing exceptional customer service to those we serve. Take a look around VA.gov, kick the tires, and tell us what you think. Let us know where we can make improvements.
This Veterans Day, we’re going to provide our customers with one of the best digital experiences across the entire Federal government. It’s an exciting time to be at VA. And it’s my honor to be working with you.
Thank you.

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