Steel City Salutes the Troops 2017

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Story by SMSgt Shawn Monk on 11/14/2017
Steel City Salutes the Troops, a military open-house for the public to see military equipment and personnel from local units as well as historical vehicles and reenactments directly after Pittsburgh's Veteran's Day Parade was held on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Point State Park.

The event is a celebration to honor Veterans while showcasing the region's rich military history and presence. This marked the fourth year of the outdoor open-house.

The celebrations started in subfreezing temperatures during the city's annual Veteran's Day Parade as Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and the Coast Guardsmen marched from Liberty Avenue to Point State Park, each holding the flags of their service. Marching bands played patriotic tunes that filled the cold air as the length of Liberty Avenue was lined with people cheering and waving flags, shouting "thank you" and holding up their home-made patriotic signs above their heads. Each element of the parade passed the viewing stand, where the parade Grand Marshal rendered a salute to all the veterans that marched past.

The Parade Grand Marshal, Command Sergeant Major Christopher Kepner, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the National Guard Bureau said, "It's a great honor to be selected as a Grand Marshal, but it's really a great honor to be out here with the people of the steel city. It was really cold this morning and the streets were lined with people who were cheering the veterans on and patriotism and respect for the Veterans lives here in the steel city and it's a great honor for me to be a part of that this year"

After the parade, Steel City Salutes the Troops continued at Point State Park, military equipment and vehicles parked on Commonwealth Place and were available for viewing and touring. Attendees of all ages had an up-close look at military equipment, personnel, and learned a bit of military history.

Some of the equipment available for viewing was a mobile air traffic control tower, a Stryker armored vehicle, and a Black Hawk helicopter that landed in the center of Point State Park, site of historic Fort Duquesne. As visitors approached the Fort Pitt Museum, they were greeted by the sounds of civil war drums and fife, a small flute played by military reenactors who were dressed in the uniforms of the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. The reenactors demonstrated weapons from each era and talked about the challenges soldiers faced in those days.

The culmination of the celebration was a mass joint swearing in ceremony led by Colonel (Retired) Gordon R. Lam. Over fifty new recruits from all branches of service stood in formation, raised their right hand, and swore to support and defend the constitution of the United States.

The event was organized by the Pennsylvania National Guard in conjunction with the city of Pittsburgh, the Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, Point State Park, Fort Pitt Museum, the Association of the United States Army, and military units from Western Pennsylvania.

"It's a time for me to reflect as well, and think about all those other veterans who have gone before me who have really set the foundation for where our military is at today and I think it's a great time for everyone to have a little bit of quiet reflection and remember there are still bad things that happen in the world and we still need a military. Thank God we have veterans that step up to the plate to defend our freedoms. "stated Kepner.

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