On Sunday, May 28, a crowd gathered around the Shelby Township veterans memorial beneath a bright sun and blue skies to honor and remember those who fell in the line of duty.
Two World War II veterans attended the ceremony, including honored speaker Jim D’Amore, who served as a combat infantryman in Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army, and who fought on D-Day.
D’Amore honored those who died in war and delivered an impassioned plea to those gathered at the ceremony to make peace and act with love “because war is hell!”
“Freedom is not free; it is won for us each day by men and women who fight so heroically and so gallantly,” Supervisor Rick Stathakis said during the event. “Engraved into this war memorial are the names of 25 Shelby Township residents who, at a young age, were sent overseas to fight but never came home.
“May we never forget them or the sacrifice they made so that we can stand together today.”
Phil Randazzo, the township’s veteran events coordinator, spoke briefly about his experience as a reconnaissance scout during the Vietnam War, where he was wounded and watched many of his peers die.
He thanked Stathakis and his staff for allowing and encouraging him to advocate for veterans. Together, he and Stathakis placed a wreath at the foot of the memorial.
Another highlight included the recognition of all veterans and active-duty soldiers present at the ceremony. Dozens indicated which branch of the military they served.
Volunteers handed out carnations to the women gathered at the event and, at the behest of Randazzo, the women stepped forward and tossed them onto the engraved pavers of the veterans memorial.
The ceremony also featured the national anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, the posting of colors by Cub Scout Pack 92, patriotic songs by the Lakeside Assembly of God choir, a 21-gun salute by the Shelby Township Police Department’s Honor Guard, prayers led by Lakeside Assembly of God Pastor Philip Krist and the playing of taps.
Tony Tancredi, a Vietnam War veteran and Shelby Township resident, attended the ceremony with his wife, Georgeann. They said they particularly enjoyed this year’s event.
“Every year, Phil does a different thing. One year, myself and other veterans spoke,” Tony said. “Some of the veterans really look forward to it.”