PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Veterans and their families gathered for the annual Memorial Day program at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.

It’s a time to honor men and women who lost their lives fighting the nation’s wars.

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“They gave so much to bring greater security and safety to our country and to many other places in the world,” said Ronald Hestdalen of the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies. “They are the few that we owe oh so much.”

Keynote speaker, Command Sgt. Richard Castleveter called on the audience to reflect and tell others about the many acts of bravery and sacrifice.

“These stories are the stories of this nation and they deserve to be heard , remembered and honored on Memorial Day and beyond,” Castleveter said.

Meanwhile, local submarine vets dropped rose petals from U.S.S. Requin to honor 4,000 men who lost their lives on submarines. Robert Kauffman, a former executive officer, says submarines helped win the war against Japan.

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“Submarines sank more Japanese merchant ships and man of war than any other force in the military,” Kauffman said.

The southwestern Pennsylvania WWII memorial pays tribute to thousands of local men and women who defended their country. But 69 years later, many of those veterans are no longer alive. Some veterans worry their sacrifices will be forgotten.

“Young people aren’t being taught the sacrifice we take for granted, freedom for granted,” said Vietnam veteran Tom Mahon. “It’s interesting, only one generation has to be removed before we forget.”

“Many people confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day, when we honor all veterans, but Memorial Day is for those that sacrifice their lives for our country,” said Cmd. John Stack with Mt. Royal VFW.

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