Somber mood fills Valley ceremony to salute fallen military heroes
By William K. Alcorn
A chilly wind and overcast sky reflected the somber mood of those who gathered Veterans Day on Central Square to pay tribute to the men and women in uniform who died serving their nation.
A wreath was placed Friday at the foot of the Man on the Monument statue by Air Force Reserve Maj. Brent Davis and Bill Pacak, commander of the United Veterans Council, which sponsored the Veterans Day observance.
A military contingent, ranging from the color guard of the Youngstown State University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, to a rifle salute to fallen comrades by the Tri-State Detachment of the Marine Corps League Honor Guard, participated in the ceremony. Taps, played by Robert Bakalik, ended the ceremony at the monument, which had begun earlier in the rotunda of the Mahoning County Courthouse.
“On this day, we commemorate the service of veterans of all American wars,” Pacak said at his welcome in the rotunda. “We remember how men and women set aside their civilian pursuits to serve their nation’s cause, defending the freedom of mankind and preserving our precious American heritage.
“We recognize that service to our country and her causes are the pinnacles of true citizenship. We learned of the purpose, discipline, bravery and sacrifice, the solid foundations upon which a great nation is built. Today we recognize the American veteran ... the true heroes of our democratic republic,” he added.
Roderick A. Hosler, junior vice commander of the veterans council, was master of ceremonies, and Leo Connelly, council chaplain, offered the invocation and benediction.
“The majority of veterans, whose unwavering courage and dedication to country we honor today, no longer wear a military uniform. They are teachers, police officers, firemen and neighbors,” said Davis, keynote speaker for the ceremony and chief of public affairs for the 910th Airlift Wing at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna.
“Today is a day of honor and a day to honor,” Davis said. “To those service members who paid the ultimate price or who are still missing or unaccounted for, we honor you by remembering the sacrifices you and your families made for our great nation.”