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By: Ken Hamilton
On the occasion of his father’s death, my friend Andy Ligammari received and recently posted on Facebook a certificate that was signed by President Barack Obama. The decorative document simply said, “The United States of America honors the memory of Alfred D. Ligammari, Sr. This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States.”
I remember when Andy would bring his sickly World War II veteran father to Hyde Park to watch the American Veterans Monuments at Niagara Falls being built behind the screening of the chain-link safety fencing. I would watch the frail gentleman’s eyes fill with briny pride as he peered through and saw those huge pieces of granite being placed. Those stones would not only honor the dedication of those war-ravished fallen Niagarans, but also to those Americans from across the nation and around world who returned home either maimed or safe. It is dedicated, as well, to all of those who served in the peace, the guardians of great deterrence to any aggression against America and our allies. In a sense, every piece of polished stone was a testament to Ligammari’s service. It was so, because he was every soldier, and all were he as well. For you see, regardless of the spans of time that passed between our services, we all really served together. Therefore, we all were honored together in that one place and in that one time where anyone stands glassy-eyed before any such monument, so conceived.
Journalist and NBC news anchor Thomas John Brokaw attended the 40th Anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy France. He was so moved by what he felt there, he wrote the 1998 book America’s Greatest Generation that profiled the efforts of those types who fought there. The title attached itself to only those who had landed there.
June 6th, 1944 is also now, and that the one spirit of service continues to stretch from America’s founding, through WWII, and on into the future. It does so because there is but one Soldier, one Sailor, one Airman, one Coast Guarder, one Marine and one Merchant Mariner as well, and all are one. We veterans are the singularity of every race and stripe that makes up our nation. Brokaw wrote, “… [WWII] is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced”. He was wrong. Each generation stood upon the shoulders of the giants that went before them.
Joseph Monaco wrote of the senior Ligammari’s exploits, “God knows we need at least some of what they had today.” I agree with Monaco. Well, at least the part that applies to God knowing; for in God’s infinite wisdom, He quietly and almost invisibly provided today with a great measure of ‘some of what they had.’ Take, for instance, the family of WWII sailor and belated County Legislator Arthur V. Curcione. His son, retired city worker Arthur L. Curcione, said that he, too, would have joined the military had it not him being the only son to take on the responsibility of running his father’s flooring business. But he is proud of his two sons that followed in their grandfather’s footsteps. The oldest son, Arthur T. Curcione, has served in the USAF and USAF Reserves since 2001. Art’s beloved step-son, Jeremy C. McKenna, has been with Art since he was 7, and was 4-years a USMC sniper. Curcione also has a son-in-law, Thomas A. Luca, who also joined the Army in 2001 and still serves in the USA Reserves. Each of Curcione’s veteran’s names is enshrined upon the Wall of Honor at Hyde Park.
Perhaps unrealized by Brokaw when he wrote his book, it is indeed with neither constraints of front nor back covers. The Greatest Generation is a series of men and women, and not simply just a contemporary and static snapshot. Thank God that there is a greater-still generation that lies dormant in the loins of our fine servicemen and women of today. Please remember them on at 11 o’clock on November 11th.