South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Veterans groups planning services at South Side, Hilltop memorials

 

Members of the South Side Hilltop Memorial Day Committee Color Guard at last year's opening Memorial Day service at the South Side Riverfront Park. This year's services will begin again at 8 a.m. on Memorial Day at the Riverfront Park.

The South Side Hill Top Memorial Day Parade Committee will hold Memorial Day services on Monday, May 29 to commemorate their comrades and remember those who sacrificed for their country as they have done for decades in South Pittsburgh. But it almost didn't happen.

Curtis "Snuffy" Schmitt, the de facto chairman of the committee, explained the chief organizer of the event in previous years, Carl Cantella, had passed away this past year. In prior years, he organized a meeting of many of the South Pittsburgh veterans' groups shortly after the first of the year to begin planning the services.

Mr. Schmitt said only three people from two organizations attended the first meeting in January. The attendance wasn't much better in February and they considered scrapping their plans.

Word spread and the March meeting had representatives from all the veterans' groups involved in the committee and decided the Memorial Day services would be held.

"I would have hated to see it go away. Not just for the veterans, but for the people who come out to see the services," Mr. Schmitt said.

Although the services will continue, there may be some scaling back. At each memorial there will be a short prayer, placing of a wreath, rifle salute and playing of Taps with bagpipes and bugle by the Warble family.

As always, the opening services will be at the boat launch in South Side Riverfront Park, off 18th Street, beginning at 8 a.m. Following the opening ceremony memorial services will be performed at VFW Post 6675 at 20th and Sidney streets, Carnegie Library of PittsburghSouth Side at 2205 E. Carson Street, Fire Station 24 at 1724 Mary Street, and the Polish Veterans Memorial at 1807 Jane Street.

The biggest memorial service is planned for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the corner of 18th and E. Carson streets. This ceremony is anticipated to begin between 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.

The group will then travel to the intersection of 10th and E. Carson streets for a service at the memorial next to the former South High School. The last South Side service will follow at the Armstrong Park memorial at the corner of 12th and Sarah streets.

Philip Ortego, quartermaster of Post 6675, said the veterans will then move up to the Hilltop first stopping at the Zone 3 Police Station at the corner of Arlington and Warrington avenues. From there they will proceed to the Mt. Oliver Fire House, 120 Brownsville Road; the 30th Ward Memorial at the corner of Brownsville Road and Suncrest Street before heading to the Boy Scout Memorial on the hillside outside of South Side Cemetery.

Mr. Ortego said they anticipate proceeding into South Side Cemetery between 11-11:30 a.m. for the traditional program. The program will include singing of the National Anthem and other selections by the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer Choir, an invocation, Roll Call of Departed Comrades, placing of wreaths, the Rifle Salute to the Dead and playing of Taps.

Following the cemetery ceremony additional services will be held at American Legion Post 694 on Arlington Avenue, St. Josaphat War Memorial on Mission Street and at the Memorial Garden on Pius Street.

"The committee has always been dedicated to continuing the observance of Memorial Day in our community and despite the hardship we had this year, we are now re-dedicated to carrying on this sacred honor of remembering all our veterans, past, present and future," Mr. Ortego said.

The South Side Hilltop Memorial Day Committee consists of members from: Veterans of Foreign Wars St. James P. Cryster Memorial Post 6675, American Legion St. Clair Post 694, American Legion Carrick-Brentwood Post 725, Catholic War Veterans St. Adalbert Post 1522, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 76 and Vietnam Veterans Inc.

 

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