Mayor Joseph Polisena delivered a moving message on Monday inside The Bridge at Cherry Hill.
“Veterans mean a lot to me,” Polisena exclaimed at the outset of his keynote address. “My father was a veteran; he was proud to have served [in the U.S. Army] but would not – I repeat would not – talk about any of his experiences during the war.”
Polisena’s father, who served during the Korean War, would get angry when people called that battle a conflict and not a war.
“Today, it’s really unfortunate that people don’t respect our flag,” the mayor said while praising U.S. President Donald Trump’s stand on the American flag. “I’m honored to be here and I want to personally thank each of you for your service to our country.”
He then stood, almost as if he was going to salute the nine veterans who call The Bridge at Cherry Hill home.
“You people are the real heroes of our country,” Polisena said. “Some people like to tout the professional athletes … they’re not heroes … you people, they are our true heroes. You’re part of the greatest generation of our time; there will never – ever – be people like you again.”
The Mayor, who thanked the veterans for what they’ve done during their great service, wanted it known: “Every day – not just today – should be Veterans Day!”
Polisena then proceeded to present each of the nine resident veterans with a personalized Town of Johnston official commendation that further praised the nine men for their service to the United States of America.
Those veterans and their branch of service who were honored Monday morning during the special ceremony held in their honor, are Rocco Pototo, Navy, Airman; Thomas Belcher, Army Private 1st Class; Louis Soccoccio, Air Force, Sergeant; Albert Palumbo, Navy Coreman 1st Class; and Gordon Dutra, Army, Specialist 1st Class.
Also, Edward Robinson, Air Force, Tech Sergeant; Herb Hudson, Navy, Fire Control 1st Class; Lawrence Calo, Army, Corporal; and Agrippino “Arthur” Schena, Air Force, Staff Sergeant.
“It was a pleasure to have Mayor Polisena here today to celebrate Veterans Day with our own veterans,” said Maryann Grace, the Executive Director at the Bridge at Cherry Hill. “Our residents represented all branches of the service.”
Grace then issued special thank-yous to Jen Burns, Sales/Community Relations Director and Corrine Elwell, Lifestyles Director for “a job well done.”
Elwell coordinated the pomp and circumstance portion of Monday’s ceremony that began with the Pledge of Allegiance and included singing of the National Anthem and readings of the Soldier’s Creed, I Am Your Flag, Proud to be an American, Old Glory is My Nickname and Proudly I Wave as well as a veterans thank you concluding with, “You are in our thoughts, you are in our prayers for all you have done!”