MERCER, Pa. (WYTV) – A long-standing tradition honored veterans in Mercer County on Monday.
Organizers of the annual Mercer Memorial Day 500 event said it is important to show support for veterans and their families every day, not just on Memorial Day.
Dale Bish served in the Pacific Theater in World War II, along with thousands of other men and women throughout the Shenango Valley.
“We were kids, 17, 18 years old,” Bish said. “When you see so many die, you have to take their dog tags off them. Life is short and it makes you mad. Then you get madder and you fight like Hell.”
He said those who died in service should be remembered all year, not just on Memorial Day.
“So many of them died to make us free, and be able to do what we want to do and go where we want to go. It is a privilege. It is God bless America, no matter how you look at it,” Bish said.
Bish was one of those honored at the Mercer Memorial Day 500. The event includes a 5-K race, a parade and ceremonies honoring the men and women of Mercer County who served in the armed forces.
Lt. Col. Larry Scheetz served in the Army for 39 years. He is now the director of the Mercer County Office of Veterans Affairs.
“It is a challenge. Because every day, I have to relive all these different war stories of veterans that walk in the door. But the word really has to go out that there is benefits, there is entitlements,” Scheetz said.
He said it is important to remember the loved ones veterans leave behind.
“From that point on, their lives are changed forever. You got to admire and respect and show patriotism for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, that died for our country,” Scheetz said.