RICHMOND, Va. -- On Veterans Day, Glenn Miscikowski watches on with pride, as he listens to a story of service shared by his grandson.
The coronavirus pandemic changed the set up for the annual Commonwealth Veteran’s Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial, but the Vietnam veteran again turned his thoughts to the service members who could not be there.
“I guess you reminisce about what happened and how lucky you are, and how unfortunate some of my friends were that did not come back,” Miscikowski said.
The annual ceremony featured special guests, like Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, and tributes to each branch of the military.
Due to the pandemic, the guest list was paired down, the event moved indoors because of the rain, and guests were asked to practice safety protocols.
The reality of the times further highlights the value military veterans have provided Americans, officials said.
“No pandemic, no social unrest, no national political dialogue not even a rainy day, is going to deter or otherwise drown out our annual thank you to veterans,” Dr. Clay Mountcastle, Director Virginia War Memorial, said. “Veterans love this country, and we must never fail to love them back.”
“We need to do more than just say thank you for your service. We need to remind our veterans each and every day that they are heroes, and they are patriots,” Governor Northam said.
Miscikowski’s pride is twofold Veterans Day 2020: honored by the sacrifice of the millions of veterans like himself but also hearing his grandson Matthew read an essay in front of those in attendance.
Matthew Miscikowiski won the Virginia War Memorial’s essay contest that featured a prompt to write about an inspirational figure from World War II.
Matthew wrote about his other grandfather, Sgt. Michael Troyanoski, who served in the U.S. Army Air Corp during WWII.
Sgt. Troyanoski passed away when Matthew was nine-years-old, but his stories of flying planes stuck with the Deep Run High School junior.
“To this day, the image of my grandfather still shines as a bright beacon which inspires me to be the best person that I can be. And one day I hope to be half the man that my grandfather was. We call them the greatest generation because of their humility, commitment, bravery, and love of their country and there will never be another group like them. I close by saying that from their stories and pictures they will continue to inspire future generations to unite, to commit and defend the honor of this country,” his essay concluded.
Matthew’s words have a through-line to both sides of his family: sacrifice and service in honor of American ideals.
“It makes me very proud to be an American, but also this great family of people. It makes me very humble to know that I have two grandfathers who served,” Matthew said. “I hold them as my personal heroes, and they always will be my heroes to me.”
“It makes you very excited because your grandson is going to be reciting an essay. You still feel excited because people care about veterans. People give a damn about the veterans, and that’s important,” Glen Miscikowski said.
If you missed the Commonwealth’s Veteran’s Day Ceremony, you can watch it in its entirety here.