Philadelphia’s veterans, both the homeless and fully employed, were front and center for the fifth annual City Council Veterans Resource Fair on the Thomas Paine Plaza outside the Municipal Services Building.
The sun was shining bright as City Council members and more than 60 veterans groups, health care, continuing education, career and other service providers dedicated to assisting veterans joined together to offer services and support.
Roughly 200 vets showed up, many donning their old or current service uniforms and waving American flags.
“I remember, at one point in time, pretty much all the city did was make sure that people got flags for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, remember that? That was ridiculous!” said City Council President Darrell Clarke.
“I want to say that while those days are particularly important to all the many veterans and all the people of this country, it’s more important to make sure that our wonderful veterans have opportunity, service and people making sure that their lives are respected based on what they have done for their country every day of the week.”
George Ginder, who lives in Philly’s Fairmount section and fought in Vietnam, said this year’s vet’s fair was bigger and better than years past. He served in the military from 1967 to 1993.
“I thought it was a great day for veterans,” he said.
“Everybody comes together with their resources to make everything available for the veterans. It’s like one-stop shopping.”
Ginder said, this year, there were more people attending and more exhibitors.
“Naturally, then, it puts the veterans in good spirits. The entertainment was great, too.”
Live music was provided by Jerry Blavat a/k/a “the Geator with the Heater,” the Mummers Woodland String Band, Frankie Darcell from WDAS-FM radio and others.
Major General Walter T. Lord, a military executive and member of the Reserve Forces Policy Board within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, served as the day’s keynote speaker.
“Events like this one are tremendously important elements of who we are as a nation,” he said.
“Warriors join our armed forces for a wide variety of reasons, but the support we receive from our fellow citizens surely makes that duty much easier…The theme of ‘always remember’ is today’s because this city has always remembered her veterans, her sons and daughters who have gone off to serve our country. We in uniform have learned – and we’ve learned as a nation – the profound impact our citizens make in supporting her warriors and veterans. It’s gratifying to know that the city of Philadelphia continues to recognize those sacrifices and I’m both honored and proud to thank you on their behalf for that recognition.”