Presque Isle celebrates Erie veterans

Melanie Todd, Staff writer

Veterans and current service members will be honored this Thursday at the Second Annual Veterans Appreciation Day at Presque Isle State Park. The event will take place at the Rotary Pavilion beginning at 10 a.m.

“The event began here at Presque Isle State Park last year as a way to celebrate the important contributions to the nation of our local veterans. Northwestern Pennsylvania has a long and storied history of military service to the nation and the region itself is a historic and important region to the development of the United States,” retired U.S. Army Reserves Maj. Joe Pfadt, Presque Isle Veterans Day event cofounder and president of Warriors to Washington, said.

Our nation’s veterans serve this country dutifully and the community wants to show their thanks and honor them, Pfadt said.

“The goal is to bring our community together to show our thanks to those who have given us so much, our veterans,” Pfadt said.

Many events will take place including a flag-raising ceremony, free fishing for veterans, information booths, reenactors and a letter writing activity.

“The letters are going to current active duty service members that are stationed around the world defending our freedoms today. One of the things that we can do here on the home front is to continue to show our support for those that wear the uniform of the nation,” Pfadt said.

There is a lot that can be done to help service members from the home front. A small gesture from a total stranger can mean so much to a service member thinking about home, he said.

“Writing a letter, sending a card or donating a personal item are all ways of showing our support that do matter to those that receive them. When you are far from home, it is the little things that say a lot. A letter of thanks from someone from ‘home’ is a real connection for the service person overseas,” Pfadt said.

Sharing your thanks and respect is important, he said.

“We enjoy all of our freedoms because someone has earned them for us. That someone is a veteran. We owe veterans all those things that we take for granted, freedom to educate ourselves, freedom to chose our livelihood, freedom to have a family, freedom to enjoy our leisure time, freedom to live in peace and define ourselves as a people. Veterans have earned that for us with their sacrifices, their sacrifices of time of blood and even their lives.

“Veterans Day is not something that the veterans ask for, but it is something that we do for them because sometimes the best part of being an American is the ability to say thank you to someone who allows us to be our best,” Pfadt said.

Donations for troops also are being collected at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center and the Erie Maritime Museum through Nov. 23. Items will be sent to servicemen currently on deployment overseas. Items requested include instant coffee packets, drink mixes, protein bars, deodorant, toothpaste, shaving cream, Band-Aids, wet wipes and size large flip-flops.