Johnstown veterans program held in city

Johnstown Historical Society President Robert Subik speaks on World War I at the Johnstown Veterans’ Day Program Sunday at the downtown bandshell. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — The centennial marking the conclusion of World War I was observed at the annual Johnstown Veterans’ Day Program, during a brisk Sunday morning at the downtown Charles Jenner Memorial Bandshell.

Johnstown Historical Society President Robert Subik provided a stirring remembrance of the honors and sacrifice that typified the first World War. He detailed why the United States got involved, as the mainland itself was in no great danger.

“We had sympathy for our allies — the British and the French,” Subik said.

But in the end, by 1918, he noted 75,000 Americans lost their lives in the 18 months of American involvement.

“The actual death toll was much [greater] later because they had been gassed,” he said.

Subik said upwards of 200,000 Americans lost their lives as the result of World War I. He said many Johnstown residents who lost their lives during WWI included: Henry G. Bradt, Leo F. Burke, Patrick A. Connelly, John Dobijas, Frank Filkins, Frederick E. Fogarty, William F. Forchette, Philip C. Gross, Francis A. Hill, Jr., James O. Johnson, Abbott Laning, Clyde Mabee, Floyd Manzer, Dorr Mason, Brown D. Murray, Lloyd V. Reese, Leonard W. Ripton, Edward M. Shiel, H.J. Smith, Russell Trumbull, James P. Uhlinger, Charles R.Walrath, and William Weaver.

Subik also read remarks from City Historian Noel Levee, who couldn’t attend.

“On this day, we should all give honor and praise for all veterans,” Subik recited.

Separate from the bandshell service, area musician Doug Dougherty played “Taps” at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Soldiers & Sailors Monument, off East Main Street in front of the Union Hall Inn. The presentation was part of the worldwide “Sounds of Remembrance” World War I commemoration programs from 1918 to 2018.

Buglers and trumpeters from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and other countries similarly commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Other speakers at the bandshell service included Johnstown Mayor Vern Jackson, who stated: “We are here today to honor our service members and remember their sacrifices.”

The mayor, a Navy veteran, said he was standing in the midst of patriots who showed “courage, determination, dedication and duty” during their military service. He said troops today continue to make the “ultimate sacrifice.”

“They didn’t go to war because they loved fighting,” Jackson said.

Fulton County Undersheriff Daniel Izzo, a former Navy SEAL member, gave the keynote address. Izzo, who served 28 years, said he could sum up military service with one word – “sacrifice.”

“You choose to serve your country first,” he said.

Izzo said men and women in the military have an attitude of: “You can count on me.”

The service began after church bells were sounded.

Master Chief Storekeeper John Morris, U.S.N.R. (retired) was master of ceremonies and led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The National Anthem was provided by Johnstown High School Band members. The band also provided a medley of patriotic music.

A moment of silence was observed for deceased veterans, and there was an order to post colors.

Bernadette Weaver read “To A Blood Stained Poppy From Flanders.”

Boy Scout Troop No. 104 presented a wreath.

A three-shot salute was conducted by the Johnstown Police Department Honor Guard.

Helen Martin provided the invocation and benediction.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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