This year, the South Side Hilltop Memorial Day Pilgrimage is once again being conducted on Monday, May 30. This long-standing community tradition begins at 8:00 a.m. at the boat launch in South Side Riverfront Park where a memorial wreath will be floated on the Monongahela River. As in the past, it will conclude at South Side Cemetery where a full memorial service will take place with Andy Miscuk as the keynote speaker.

Participants will commemorate all fallen comrades by journeying from one memorial to the next. They will honor the brave military members who died in all the conflicts since the birth of the nation. All residents and visitors are welcome at each of the 16 memorials where services will be held.

Traditions like these reinforce our sense of well-being and self-worth. They enable us to celebrate life joyously and commemorate our losses respectfully. The South Side Hilltop Memorial Day Committee (SSHMDC) is a veterans group dedicated to organizing and carrying out this pilgrimage and is co-chaired by Curtis Schmitt and Philip Ortego. A number of local dignitaries and esteemed guests will be at the boat launch for the start of the procession.

Each stop includes a prayer, the placing of a wreath, a rifle salute, the playing of Taps, and a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace” by members of the Warble family- Adam and Andrew on bugle and bagpipe accompanied by their sisters Alexis and April. After the 8 a.m. wreath launch, the following stops and approximate times are:

  • 8:15 a.m. @ VFW Post 6675 at S.20th and Sidney streets;
  • 8:30 a.m. @ Carnegie Library at 2205 E. Carson St.;
  • 8:45 a.m. @ Pittsburgh Fire Station #24 at 1724 Mary St.;
  • 9:00 a.m. @ Polish Veterans Memorial at 1807 Jane St.;
  • 9:15 a.m. @ Vietnam Veterans Memorial at E. Carson and S.18th streets (Vietnam Veterans Inc. Honor Guard will be participating at this site);
  • 9:30 a.m. @ South High School Memorial at E. Carson and S.10th streets;
  • 9:45 a.m. @ Armstrong Park Memorial at Sarah and S.12th streets;
  • 10:00 a.m. @ Mission St. Memorial at 2315 Mission St. (across from St. Josaphat church);
  • 10:15 a.m. @ Pius St. Memorial Garden at 105 Pius St.;
  • 10:30 a.m. @ Zone 3 Police Station at Arlington and Warrington Avenues;
  • 11:00 a.m. @ Mt. Oliver Firehouse at 120 Brownsville Rd.;
  • 11:15 a.m. @ 30th Ward Memorial at Brownsville Rd. and Suncrest St.;
  • 11:30 a.m. @ Boy Scout Veterans Memorial on Brownsville Rd. between Birmingham and Linnview avenues;
  • 11:45 a.m. @ St. Adalbert Cemetery at 1512 Brownsville Rd. (within the cemetery);
  • 12 Noon @ South Side Cemetery at 1404 Brownsville Rd.

The final cemetery stop will include the National Anthem and other selections to be sung by the Carrick Community Choir, an invocation by Deacon Jim Grab, a roll call of recently departed comrades, the placing of wreaths, a rifle salute to the deceased, the keynote address, and the playing of “Taps.”

In addition to Mr. Schmitt and Mr. Ortego, the committee consists of Officer of the Day Jim Wrzesinski, Treasurer Bob Meussner, Ways and Means Chairman Bob Szoszorek, Chaplain John Vaulet and volunteers Frank Ford, Rege Ketter and Denny Schlegel. The committee also obtains flags, markers and wreaths to place in several local cemeteries during the week before Memorial Day.

The pilgrimage includes members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Sgt. James P. Cryster Memorial Post 6675, American Legion Carrick-Brentwood Post 725, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 76 and Vietnam Veterans Inc. This is our way of saying, “Thank you, brothers and sisters, for making the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. You were there for us then and now we are here for you. Your lives mattered and we will never forget.”