PITTSBURG, Kan. — Similar to its Memorial Day ceremony earlier this year, Pittsburg State University made some changes to its traditional Veterans Day observance this week, streaming a video of the event online rather than allowing in-person spectators at the PSU Veterans Memorial due to COVID-19.
“Veterans Day is very meaningful to me because everybody takes the time to appreciate sacrifices that were made, and I think it’s important for future generations to realize that, and to realize the sacrifices that were made,” said Chris Kmiec, a local police detective who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and one of four veterans who told their stories in PSU’s Veterans Day ceremony video.
“Some made ultimate sacrifices, others had to leave their families for a period of time,” he said, “but everybody sacrificed something, and I don’t want anyone to ever forget about that.”
Louie “GeGe” Sachetta, a former miner with Big Brutus and another veteran featured in the ceremony, talked about meeting Gen. George Patton and serving at the same time as his five brothers in World War II.
“And we all made it back safe and sound,” Sachetta said. “But they say my mother sat on a chair night after night and prayed for us, and we all got back safe and sound, so you wonder sometimes whether that works or not, but it worked in that case.”
Gene Corsini was another local veteran featured in PSU’s ceremony. He talked about his experience being stationed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
“I was an attack pilot, I flew a single-engine, single-pilot dive bomber” Corsini said. “There were about 100 of us that actually were exposed every day, that put ourselves in harm’s way, that were, you know, going over the beach on a daily basis. And we got shot at every day by everything you can imagine, from anti-aircraft fire that you’ve seen in movies with the black puffs going off and all that, to new technology of the day, which was surface-to-air missiles.”
Dr. Ron Seglie, a PSU graduate and local physician, discussed his service in Operation Desert Storm, as well as the Vietnam War.
“If you look back and you see what happened and how it happened, you see that those people who served in Vietnam were true heroes. They had to go, most of them. They were inductees, they had to go and they served, and they served well. Unfortunately, as this memorial shows, a lot of them didn’t come home,” Seglie said, adding that several of his friends’ names are written on PSU’s smaller-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
“So I respect them. There were 58,000 or more of them that didn’t come home. Served very well. They were not treated well coming home from Vietnam. They were treated rather poorly overall, and to this day they still haven’t gotten the recognition that they deserve.
PSU President Steve Scott also spoke at the end of the video, discussing the university’s annual Veterans Day observance and its Veterans Memorial.
“On this Veterans Day, Pittsburg State University will keep our veterans in our thoughts and in our hearts,” Scott said, “and I hope you will as well.”