Annual Veterans Day Memorial Service held

Annual Veterans Day observances took place throughout the City of St. Marys on Thursday, beginning with observances at area churches, including a 7 a.m. Mass at Queen of the World Church and an 8:45 a.m. Mass at St. Mary's Church in honor of all the living and deceased veterans of the military service. A memorial service on the Diamond got underway at 11 a.m., with retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Straub as master of ceremonies. A number of area residents attended the service, which featured opening and closing prayers by Fr. Michael Ferrick, pastor of Queen of the World Parish, and several patriotic performances, including "God Bless America," "This Is My Country" and the "The Star-Spangled Banner" by the Spirit of the Alleghenies Chorus. Located on the Diamond was a display of several white crosses containing orange ribbons with poppies placed on the ground in front of the crosses."The crosses are a common, simple memorial to mark the resting place of those who gave their lives on the battlefield for their country. The color white has stood for purity. In war, it is called the color of truce and means 'stop firing.' Thus, in many cemeteries, we have white crosses marking the resting place of those whom we honor today," Straub said. "The poppies date back to World War I, when many of the battlefields bloomed wild with poppies, which was quite common in France. Hence, the poppy has become the symbol of the tragedy of war and the renewal of life. The orange ribbons on the white crosses signify the remembrance of the victims from Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Over 58,000 men and women died during the Vietnam War. Since the end of the war in Vietnam, over 700,000 men and women died and are still dying from the effects of Agent Orange."Tom Price, Sergeant-in-Charge of the St. Marys Servicemen's Burial Detail, recited the famous poem, 'In Flanders Fields,' and Gary Schreiber, District 7 Director of Pennsylvania of the Vietnam Veterans of America, was responsible for lighting the Eternal Flame. For more on this story, see the November 12th edition of The Daily Press.