A speaker said it is important to tell the stories of veterans to young people.
CANFIELD — Leo Uliczny was walking in downtown Toledo when he heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Uliczny, then 24, enlisted in the U.S. Army the next day.
“I had to go, I had to do the right thing,” said the 92-year-old Toledo native. “That’s just the way it was. It was hard, but you do what you have to do and get through it. I wouldn’t change it or do anything any differently.”
Uliczny, a Purple Heart recipient, moved to the Canfield area recently to be closer to his daughter, Barbara Niro. On Monday, he was among the people who gathered at Canfield center to honor men and women who died serving their country. The 88th Annual Memorial Day Service On The Green was presented by Canfield American Legion Post 177 and the local War Veterans Museum.
At least 1,000 people lined up along the sidewalks and in the yard in front of the gazebo as city officials spoke about area veterans of each war.
The program featured the American Legion’s Color Guard presenting the American flag and music by the Canfield High School Band.
Keynote speaker, Colonel Karl McGregor, commander, U.S. Air Force Reserve Base in Vienna, quoted the number of war causalities throughout the years, from the Revolutionary War to the present day in the Middle East, reminding everyone that these Americans did their duty.
“And we know who they are,” he continued. “As we visit the cemeteries and note the dates of their shortened lives on the headstones, we know their loved ones, their spouses, their mothers and fathers, and their children and the friends who shall always miss them because they were in our communities and were a part of our lives.”
McGregor said it is important to honor these veterans by telling their stories to the young, imitating their purposes and their lives and by thanking them.
“We should look at their courage, their resoluteness and their actions,” he said. “They didn’t expect much from life, were mostly without resources, save only their intelligence, bravery and stout hearts. They thought themselves ordinary and ended up being great because much was expected of them. They didn’t let the free world down.”
As he looked around the crowd Uliczny said daily he recognizes he is one of the few surviving World War II veterans.
“Things like this always bring back memories, good ones and bad ones,” he said. “It’s not always easy, but it’s important to show your love and respect for all of the veterans. It’s important to remember all of them. It’s the least I can do.”
After the program, participants proceeded to the Canfield Cemetery and then to the War Museum to dedicate new plaques added to the Wall of Honor.
“We will continue to remember all widows and orphans,” Councilwoman Marleen Belfiore said earlier in the day. “Most of all we must remember to praise God for our freedoms and thank Him for the men and women who preserve them.”