June 27, 2011

Pennsylvania Heroes Walk for the Wounded Warriors




There’s been quite a change. When men arrived home from the Viet Nam war in the 1960s, there was no welcome. Today, soldiers return from war to bands and applause.

     The reception Ligonier gave to the walkers participating in the Pennsylvania Hero Walk showed that patriotism is not just a word to local residents. It showed that patriotism was alive and well in this community.

Pennsylvania Hero Walkers pass under an arch on the west side of Ligonier's Diamond

     “We were honored to be with several injured servicemen,” said one of the founders of the walk, Al Pulice, of Murrysville, Pennsylvania. “It’s a learning experience to be with the men who served the country…and (to be with people) who dedicated two weeks, 24/7 hours, to the walk. Thank you, Ligonier.”

Al Pulice (right) receives a plaque for the Pennsylvania Hero Walk

     (The background of the Pennsylvania Hero Walk is posted at the link following this post.)

     While the walkers, parade participants and others enjoyed a delicious, plentiful, meal prepared by the Ligonier American Legion, it was announced that the Hero Walkers “still have a walker who refuses to quit.”

      While waiting for the last walker, Al Pulice said that he is satisfied with this year’s 300-mile cross-state walk, which ended in Lower Burrell. It raised more than $60,000 for the Wounded Warriors.*

     “The only thing I want is to have more injured servicemen participate, at least for one day,” Pulice said.

     Although next year he may change the focus of the walk to encourage more persons to walk a single day, he has a more brilliant idea.

     “I’d like to see a three hundred mile parade, stretching across Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh,” he said. It’s not impossible for the man who now “knows all the towns, V. F. W.s and police” along the Route 30 walking route.

      The dreamed of, hoped for, walk is projected to last one hour—“Imagine the whole Route 30 closed on a Sunday morning at 10:00 o’clock. It can be done.”

     He reflected back to when he dreamed of just walking across Pennsylvania.

     “When I came up with the idea,  I spoke with someone from the Chamber of Commerce.” Following that conversation, the book The Forbes Trail appeared on a desk.

     Later, he went to a Halloween party and found himself face to face with a Forbes impersonator in full character costume—he was Jim Scahill, an Armstrong County commissioner.


     Finally, word came that the last walker was arriving. People still remaining at the dinner went outside to greet him. A few walked up to Main Street as he walked ever so slowly to the American Legion hall.

     Colin, 23, had only walked from Ruthies Restaurant on Route 30. However, that walk qualified him as a true participant. (Below: Colinis wearing the white shirt.)

Pa. Hero walkers accompany Colin 9in white shirt) at the end of his walk

     Colin, a Connecticut resident, was in the Army, but never made it to Iraq. Fifteen months ago he was in a car accident—he fell asleep at the wheel and hit a tree. When he arrived at the Veteran’s Brain Injury Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, he was in a wheelchair, unable to walk without assistance. Since then he’s made great strides—moving from the chair to a walker to a cane. His steps are slow—very slow—and measured.

     According to a walker who knew him, Colin “represents all the values the Army instills in soldiers,” including persistence. His efforts were rewarded with applause as he walked towards the American Legion hall entrance between two rows of cheering people.

     Colin said he “didn’t get to go on the whole walk, so I decided to walk from Ruthie’s.” He participated in the walk with two other Veterans from the Brain Injury Center who walked from the Old Boat Hotel on Laurel Mountain to the Ligonier American Legion hall.


Local citizens arrive at the American Legion hall

     Next year Pulice wants the walk to continue to reflect its purpose, that of creating awareness for the Wounded Warriors organization. The dreamed of parade will not only enhance that purpose, it might make the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest parade.



Pennsylvania Hero Walkers to Stop in Ligonier (PA) June 22, 2010

*Walk raises $60K for wounded vets, Greensburg Tribune Review, June 26, 2010, pp C1






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