Last updated: March 16. 2013 8:13PM - 247 Views
SARA POKORNY spokorny@timesleader

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PLAINS TWP. -- As Valentine's Day comes nearer, people shift focus to those they love and appreciate, planning out a day of gifts and gratitude.

Around this holiday, however, there's a focus with gratitude on something much more, and, and for more than one day: it kicked off Sunday at the Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in the form of National Salute to Veterans week.

Liberty Hall was packed with veterans of all ages and their friends and families, a jovial event in which all laughed together and thanked one another for all they have done for their country.

Though the words were many in the crowd, keynote speaker Lleyewllyn Fogel Dryfoos, III, said it was a big task to communicate the message all were there to express.

It's not easy to be able to express the importance our nation's veterans hold or somehow relay the meaning when someone agrees to put on our nation's uniform, and agrees to accept whatever comes next, whatever comes his or her way in defense of our citizens and our way of life.

Dryfoos was a captain in the U.S. Army and served more than five years both in the United States and Germany. His service also included duty as a Patriot missile fire control officer during the first Persian Gulf War, for which he was awarded several decorations, including the Bronze Star medal.

Also on hand for the event to offer volunteer assistance were the Wilkes University ROTC, Mountain Top Boy Scout Troop No. 60, seventh- and eighth-grade Wyoming Seminary students, and the Hazleton BPO Elks. At the close of the ceremony, John Taddei, Elks secretary, presented the VA with a monetary donation.

Some of the events planned in honor of the veterans for this week include a visit from the Meyers High School Key Club, a musical performance by Patsy Cline impersonator Penny Eckman, Vets for Vets Singers and a Valentine's Day Social.

While the veterans were the main focus of thanks for the day, Gail Ziegler, chief of Voluntary Service at the VA, also pointed out the hard work of the numerous volunteers, noting that last year over 400 volunteers gladly gave over more than 50,000 hours of service to veterans.

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