I want to recognize the residents of Blair County for their wonderful support of the recent Veterans Day Parade in Altoona. In recent years, turnout for the parades has been down a bit. It is refreshing to me, a World War II-era veteran, to see the community remembering and honoring veterans.
I have been a member of the Blair County War Veterans Council, which sponsors and coordinates the Altoona Veterans and Memorial Day parades, for most of the past five decades.
Our current commander, Jim Brown of Bellwood, has also been a volunteer for many years. Brown was unable to participate in this parade because of serious illness but deserves a lot of credit for his efforts to organize the parades over the years.
The media also help. The Altoona Mirror, especially Bill Kibler and Brenda Carberry, are very thorough in their coverage and help to spread the word about the parades, as well as the human interest stories of veterans and their families on which they focus. WTAJ and WJAC TV stations are always out in force to cover the parades. WRTA and Forever Broadcasting perform an important civic function with their public service announcements and heartfelt support of veterans' causes in general.
The Blair County War Veterans Council has a planning committee, which works throughout the year on the parade organizational issues. These "young men" do the little extra things which make events like this parade special.
And finally thanks to all the citizens and organizations, which actually march or ride in the parade. The number of organizations that get involved is growing rapidly, and the spirit of participation on parade day is uplifting and full of civic and national pride. I really love to see the school bands and fire companies, along with all of the veteran service organizations.
I've been around a long time and seen a lot of parades come and go.
I want everyone to know that I think this year's Veterans Day was among the best that has ever been. It means a lot to us old vets to know that people still care.
Frank Benfatta, adjutant, Blair County War Veterans Council, Altoona