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November 8, 2013

‘Heroes Among Us’: Mohawk students, Cathedral team up to salute local veterans

NEW CASTLE — A Mohawk student organization honored “The Heroes Among Us” yesterday at the Scottish Rite Cathedral.

For the 15th year, the school’s Future Business Leaders of America and the Scottish Rite Cathedral Foundation presented their annual Veterans Day program. Hundreds of area veterans and their guests, along with Mohawk students and faculty, spent the morning paying tribute to and remembering local residents who have served their country. The program featured guest speakers and music from Mohawk High’s  choir and band.

“Mohawk School District comes every year and puts on a magnificent program,” Kenneth Shiderly, Scottish Rite Cathedral Foundation’s vice-president remarked. “The real reason for today is to honor veterans.”

Veterans from various branches of the armed services who participated in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War,  Operation Desert Storm, Iraq or Afghanistan were recognized, as well as those who served in peace time.

“Today we take time to honor and remember their service,” said Mackenzie Moon, president of the Mohawk organizing club. “Veterans are an integral part of our past, present and future. They sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms.”

Among those who spoke were Lawrence County District Attorney and Navy veteran Joshua Lamancusa and New Castle’s Ruth Fairchild, who last year became the first female veteran and first Desert Storm veteran to be named commander of the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars Department.

“These veterans were willing to put their lives on hold and risk those same lives,” Fairchild said. “But, if you ask most any veteran, they won’t consider themselves a hero.

“They’ll consider themselves to be a good citizen. Ordinary citizens have been fighting for our freedom, and so often many forget the importance of this day and the direct impact of veterans on our lives.”

Lamancusa also shared his history as a veteran, including obtaining the rank of lieutenant during a nearly six-year period in the Navy before resigning from active duty in 2005.

“Honor is a choice,” Lamancusa said, addressing the students. “No one is born with it, and no one is guaranteed it. One must earn it.

“You will always have choices. No matter where you are or come from, take chances and risks. You may find yourself speaking to an auditorium of heroes such as these.”

Whether student, faculty or veteran, those in attendance walked away with an appreciation for the men and women who served and continue to serve.

“Veterans have gone bravely wherever they were needed, without asking for anything in return,” Fairchild said. “When you see a veteran, thank them —  that’s the least we can do. We are truly privileged to have such heroes among us.”


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