WHEELING W.Va. (WTRF): Community – That’s what West Virginia State Senator, Ryan Weld, says ties the veterans who faced common hardship fighting for our country to the Italian-Americans who faced common hardship coming to America. 

“It’s the same for veterans. The Veterans worked together as a community because they had those common experiences, faced those common challenges, and worked together to overcome those, and so, a festival like this – that we have today – and festivals all across the country, you know, wouldn’t be happening without those who stood up and served their country.” 

Sen. Ryan Weld – W. Va. State Senator

The Veterans Appreciation Ceremony at the Italian Heritage Festival honored those who served the United States. Most notably, they gave a special salute to The Medal of Honor recipient Mr. Hershel “Woody” Williams, and West Virginia Marine Corp. Commander, Mr. John Nanny. 

Festival chairman, Tony Filberto says that these men represent what this festival is all about. 

“The things that they did was for the masses – not just for themselves – and that’s what we are doing here. We are hoping that everybody can be part of this festival, not an individual thing. So, their lives were dedicated that way.” 

Tony Filberto – Undo’s Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival Chairman

These men and the many other Americans who served our country were honored through the Empty Chair Ceremony, where a small table – set for one- symbolizes the absence of members of our armed forces. 

The ceremony closed with two renditions of “God Bless America” – One for Woody Williams, and one for John Nanny.

While you’re out enjoying all of the sweet treats the Italian Heritage Festival has to offer, it’s important to remember just why they are here.