Upper St. Clair High School students honored local veterans at an event on Armed Forces Day, May 21, 2016. The event, held in conjunction with Community Day, took place at Upper St. Clair Veterans Park
“Our veterans and those serving in uniform today deserve a special recognition that all too often goes unnoticed or worse unappreciated,” Ted Gialames, Upper St. Clair senior and student council president” said. “Thank you for your service and sacrifices that you have made for our country.”
President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for the nation to honor its military servicemen and women and to thank them for their service and sacrifice. On Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day, which replaced separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.
Upper St. Clair High School sophomores Maggie Connors, Maggie Paul and Riley Stevenson performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and members of the Marine Corps League South Hills Detachment 726 presented the colors.
For Upper St. Clair senior Mihir Gite, who immigrated to the United States as a small child, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day hold special meaning.
“Ever since I can remember I have considered America to be my home, and I am proud to call myself an American citizen,” Mihir said. “As I grew up, I realized that I was given my rights and liberties through the service and sacrifice by members of our Armed Forces.”
Mihir’s brother and sister-in-law are both currently serving in the Marines.
“My family does not take their sacrifices lightly and we feel the need to serve,” he said. “My siblings and I feel that we owe something to this great country for all that we have received and the only way to repay that debt is through the military. In my future I will be a part of NROTC Marine Option in college.”
An Eagle Scout and member of the Upper St. Clair Volunteer Fire Department, Mihir used his Eagle Scout project as an opportunity to give back. Specifically, his project benefited the No Veteran Dies Alone program
at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in Oakland. NVDA volunteers provide comfort to veterans at times when family and friends are unable to be present.
“When deciding on my Eagle Scout project I knew I wanted to do something that would show veterans how thankful I, along with the community, was for their service,” he said. “With support from the community I was able to raise $3,500 and construct response kits that volunteers could grab at a moment’s notice to better comfort dying Veterans in their final hours.”
NVDA helps ensure that no veteran should have to stand alone in the challenges brought on by illness, isolation, or traumatic life experience.
“One lesson that I have learned through my time spent with veterans is that freedom is not free,” Mihir said.