DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS Guest speaker Sgt. 1st Class Paul A. Shutter, dressed in fatigues, salutes the flag during Monday's "Salute to Veterans" ceremony at Sky-View Memorial Park, Hometown.
Sgt. 1st Class Paul A. Shutter, Pennsylvania National Guard, challenged Americans to remember the losses. And the numbers he revealed are heartbreakingly high.
"They're my brothers and sisters," said the veteran of two tours of duty in the Middle East.
Shutter's moving words under bright noontime sun highlighted the "Salute Our Veterans" program held Monday at Sky-View Memorial Park in Hometown.
The sprawling park along Route 54 is the resting place of over 3,146 fallen heroes, according to veteran Dale D. Kline, master of ceremonies, who welcomed visitors and spoke of the significance of the holiday.
"That's an additional 57 from last year," said Kline, a reminder that America continues to lose countless veterans each day.
In fact, the mortality totals of those who served, as announced by Shutter, prompted those in attendance to bow their heads.
Revolutionary War, 25,000; War of 1812, 20,000; Mexican-American War, 13,000; Civil War, 625,000; World War I, 116,000; World War II, 405,000; Korean War, 36,000; Vietnam, 58,000; and Iraq/Afghanistan, 6,800.
"A total of 1.3 million of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines," said Shutter.
Shutter also encouraged attendees to observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m., enacted by Congress on Dec. 28, 2000. The designation asks Americans to pause in an act of national unity for a duration of one minute, no matter where you are or what you're doing.
The time was chosen because it's the point in the day when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday. "The Moment" does not replace traditional Memorial Day events but is an act of national unity in which all Americans, alone or with family and friends, honor those who died in service to the country.