Vietnam Veteran Dan Martellacci

Vietnam Veteran Dan Martellacci spoke this morning during the announcement of the upcoming Vietnam War Commemoration in Altoona.

State and federal lawmakers who represent Blair County today in Altoona announced a November commemoration of the Vietnam War period, including an opportunity for veterans and their families to receive a Vietnam veteran lapel pin. A media event took place this morning at the American Legion in Hollidayburg.

Patrick Young, U.S. Army Veteran and director of Veterans Affairs for Blair County introduced Congressman John Joyce, State Representative Jim Gregory and Rocco Scalzo, president of Beating the Odds Foundation.

Scalzo announced that a special guest speaker will be featured at the commemoration: Rocky Bleier, a Vietnam War hero and four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I had the opportunity to be part of the commission to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The pinning ceremony is really the first time that our government has been able to thank and honor specifically Vietnam veterans for their contributions and sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. It is also to recognize the sacrifices made by their families and friends. It is a lasting memento of a grateful nation. I am honored to be the keynote speaker for the ceremony in Altoona on Nov. 8,” Bleier said.

Eligible veterans or a designee from their family can receive a Vietnam veteran lapel pin being distributed as the nation marks five decades since the war.

“It is important we recognize the sacrifices made by veterans and their families. I’m happy to have this opportunity to pay tribute to their wartime contributions,” said Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair), who noted survivors of deceased veterans can obtain a pin in their memory.

“This commemoration is one small way we can honor the service of our Vietnam veterans. They fought for the ideals of the American people, and we must never forget their immense contributions to our nation,” U.S. Rep. John Joyce (R-Pa.) said.

The Blair County Veterans Affairs Office and James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center are partners in the event, which will take place November 8 at 1 p.m. Doors open at noon at the Jaffa Shrine Center at the intersection of Broad Avenue and 22nd Street in Altoona.

Sen. Judy Ward (R-Blair/Cumberland/Franklin/Fulton/Huntingdon) added that veterans from the era are owed so much. “Honoring them with this event and saying ‘thank you’ is the least we can do for these heroes,” Ward said.

“I would encourage all Blair County veterans from 1955 to 1975 to consider coming to this event so that we can honor them. This may give them the welcome and gratitude they didn’t experience when they returned home from overseas,” Rep. Lou Schmitt Jr. (R-Blair) said.

RSVPs are required to attend the event. Those who need a form to RSVP can contact Jennifer Mearkle at (814) 656-6081 or Jennifer.Mearkle@mail.house.gov, or Deb Pensyl Reasy at (814) 695-2398 or dreasy@pahousegop.com.

 

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