Pennsylvania Celebrates Guard and Veterans Day at State Capitol

Guard-Veterans DayCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) held a Guard and Veterans Day event at the state capitol. The event showcased the department’s dual mission of supporting the Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) and the state’s veterans.

The Pennsylvania National Guard is the nation’s third-largest, with about 18,000 members. Pennsylvania also has more than 700,000 veterans, making it home to the country’s fourth-largest veteran population.

“Together we serve! Today was a prime example of how our past, present, and future members do just that,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA. “Supporting Pennsylvania servicemembers, veterans, and their families is a top priority for this department. I am thankful to everyone who worked to make this event informative, interactive, and fun for the public.”

The event featured a special guest: Benjamin Melvin Berry of Philadelphia, a WWII veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Berry participated in an enlistment ceremony for 20 new recruits and spoke about the value of freedom. He also mentioned his anticipation for the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in December. This battle was the last major German offensive on the Western Front during World War II.

The Pennsylvania National Guard played a significant role in the Battle of the Bulge. The 28th Infantry Division, having just been reconstituted from the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, faced the brunt of the German attack. Their efforts successfully delayed the German 5th Panzer Army, allowing Allied forces to reposition and contribute to an eventual victory that hastened the end of World War II.

2024 is a notable year for military anniversaries. June 6 will mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings along the Normandy coast, a pivotal event that led to the liberation of Europe.

Guard and Veterans Day also included table-top displays showcasing military uniforms, medical equipment, and weapons. These exhibits demonstrated how the PNG and DMVA serve the nation, commonwealth, veterans, and their community partners. Outside the capitol, visitors enjoyed viewing Army and Air Force vehicles, including Humvees, jeeps, all-terrain vehicles, and a cargo truck.

With a combined state and federal budget exceeding $1.1 billion, the DMVA is one of Pennsylvania’s top 10 employers. The department employs approximately 2,800 commonwealth employees and 17,000 National Guard members and federal employees across the state. Its economic impact surpasses $1.5 billion.

The significance of this event lies in its ability to honor both historical and contemporary contributions of Pennsylvania’s military and veteran communities. By celebrating these efforts, the DMVA not only educates the public but also fosters a sense of unity and appreciation for those who serve.

In summary, Pennsylvania’s Guard and Veterans Day highlighted the enduring legacy of its servicemembers and veterans. Through interactive displays and ceremonies, the event celebrated the sacrifices and achievements of those who have served and continue to serve, reinforcing the importance of supporting these communities.

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