They served as long ago as World War II and as recently as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they all came together at Clipper Magazine Stadium Monday to celebrate the freedoms for which they fought.
Christopher Burton, who works for the Lancaster Barnstormers and served in the Marine Corps, said the annual event is a chance for veterans to “come here and be praised for who they are. I think a lot of times we pass people by and not know their history. This allows their history to shine like a star.”
Former state Rep. John Bear started the “Salute to Veterans” a few years ago in conjunction with area posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. People who came to the free event were treated to a show filled with music, singing and reflection. They also got a chance to take in a baseball game, one of America’s pastimes.
“We want every citizen in Lancaster and in the U.S. and Pennsylvania to thank these men and women for what they’ve done and those who’ve served,” said Bear.
Current Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-97th) said a lot of his constituents urged him to continue the event after Bear left office.
Mentzer said, “If I was asked once, I was asked 25 times when I was running, are you going to keep the “Salute to Veterans”?”
Burton said organizers had distributed tickets to 1,800 veterans. Many of them brought along family members to the event that coincides with the unofficial start of summer.
“I think as a young generation here, we need to continue on and respect our elders, continue learning form what they’ve done, the hardships and what they’ve provided for us, the freedom,” said Maj. Luis Mendoza, an Army veteran of the Iraq War.