BRENTWOOD (KDKA) — A local community gave a wounded police officer a hero’s welcome and tribute.
Clairton Police Officer James Kuzak was shot three times in the line of duty in April. Today, he was the grand marshal of the annual Fourth of July parade in Brentwood.
Those who lined the streets honored Kuzak and all of those who have put their lives on the line to protect us and our freedom.
From Civil War re-enactors, to veterans of the Korean War, to those who served in Vietnam, all felt the gratitude of the people who lined the parade route.
“I feel gratitude and proud – proud of all these men that have fought and stood up for our country,” Roz McGee, of Baldwin, said.
While the kids enjoyed all the military drilling and pageantry, those who had served in wartime had deeper concerns.
“I worry about the guys who are getting injured today – the troops in Afghanistan and our brothers overseas,” Vietnam Veteran Bob Stoodt, of South Park, said.
But prayers and thanks were not limited to the military. Officer Kuzak said he was honored to be grand marshal.
“This is amazing today,” he said. “It’s just outrageous to see this many people – they know me. By some reason – it’s amazing.”
For Kuzak, the tribute and outpouring of support is a source of inspiration. Doctors feared he would be paralyzed from the waist down.
“It gives me so much strength to just do everything I need to do to get back up and walking,” Kuzak said.
These days, Kuzak is forcing himself through a grueling daily regimen of rehabilitation therapy which is now showing results.
Andy Sheehan: “So you’re walking?”
Officer Kuzak: “Yep, walking every day when I’m at therapy. Using the braces and getting myself along.”
Andy Sheehan: “And you’re hoping for what — full recovery?”
Officer Kuzak: “Full recovery – that’s what I’m looking for. I won’t accept anything less.”
All of it is good news to those along the parade route.
“Oh, I was so happy to see him,” Becky Chiocca, of Peters Township, said. “I prayed for him every day. Things like that happen – that’s terrible. I have to give all the officers credit for the work they do keeping us safe.”