Honoring Memorial Day

As you prepare for all of the Memorial Day festivities that await you, take a moment to remember all of the brave men and women who have served or laid down their lives in the defense of our great nation. On behalf of all of the grateful citizens from Duquesne, THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU!

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When I’m Gone

- Mrs. Lyman Hancock

When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile,
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile.

Forget unkind words I have spoken;
Remember some good I have done.
Forget that I ever had heartache
And remember I’ve had loads of fun.

Forget that I’ve stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way.
Remember I have fought some hard battles
And won, ere the close of the day.

Then forget to grieve for my going,
I would not have you sad for a day,
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay,

And come in the shade of evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best.

Dad

The book “Glory Years” by Pittsburgh author Jim O’Brien has a story of my father, Steve Volk, which I would like to share with you once again in his honor and as a reminder of how so many of our fathers were courageous members of the armed forces:  

Steve Volk “I’m 110 percent”

A light rain fell all weekend on the fresh grave at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Mifflin. It soaked a small American flag that had been stuck in the mound so that the flag soon stopped flapping in the breeze.

The flag signified that the decreased man was a military veteran, one of those we ought to remember and pay tribute to on Memorial Day.

A larger American flag was folded in a triangle at the top of the casket, and had caught my eye, during the viewing earlier in the week at the Gregris Funeral Home in Duquesne. It’s the favored funeral home for Croatian Catholics in the community, across the street from the high school, up the steep hill from where the U.S. Steel Works once dominated the landscape.

Steve Volk, my wife’s uncle, had lived most of his 84 years in Duquesne, and once owned an automotive repair shop there. He later managed an automotive repair unit of J.C. Penney’s. He died in May of 1999.

During World War II, Volk trained airplane mechanics for the U.S. Army at an airfield near Chicago. Like most men and women who were in the military service, he was not a decorated war hero. He simply served his country as best he could and when he came back home he got a job and raised a family.                             

Steve Volk was no big shot, just a simple man. He was about 5′ 7″,  but walker tall and was a sociable fellow. I didn’t know him that well, but every time I saw him at a family get-together he wore a hat and a smile. When anyone asked how he was doing, he would reply, “I’m 110 percent.”

He was the sort of man NBC newscaster Tom Brokaw wrote about in his best-selling book, “The Greatest Generation.” It dealt with individual men and women who came of age during the Great Depression and World War II and went on to build modern America.  “This generation was united not only by a common purpose,” wrote Brokaw, “but also by common values — duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country~ and, above all, responsibility for oneself.”

Steve was the oldest of eight children. He was survived by his sisters,  Helen Volk and Peggy Rusnica, and his brothers, Gary and Joseph. He was  preceded in death by his brothers, John, Henry and Michael.

Volk did a great job of raising his sons, Steve and Jimmy, now in their mid-40’s. Young Steve was just 14 and Jimmy 12 when their mother, Mildred Volk, died. They’ve always been good kids, and now they  have wonderful families of their own. Their dad taught them how to do  that.

Steve has been a big success in the insurance business, and Jimmy has done just as well in the retail business. They have fond memories of their father. He was a simple man who 
enjoyed hunting, fishing, golfing and smiling.

Seeing a movie like “Saving Private Ryan” makes one realize how lucky they were not to have been in combat. It’s the combat veterans who really rate our admiration. But people like Steve Volk did their best in a supportive way.

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2 Responses to Honoring Memorial Day

  1. Colleen Byrne Travis says:

    I recently saw something on Face Book that said “i was killed in Viet Nam, but I am still alive”. My brother, Pat, was killed in Viet Nam in the late 60’s but he died of Leukemia from Agent Orange in 2012. He was 67. I miss him every day. He was a great, fun guy, my big brother. Jim thank you, again,
    for this great entry and all of your entries. Stay healthy!

  2. Larry McConnell says:

    Thanks again Jim, for another wonderful entry on this, the veterans honored day. And thanks for the book title and author’s name I will be sure to read it.

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