Service of local veterans remembered
WELLSBURG — As speaker for the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Foundation’s Veterans Day service Friday, attorney Bill Cipriani noted John F. Kennedy once said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
Cipriani said it’s fitting that Americans take time on Veterans Day to honor a comparatively small number of fellow citizens, less than 10 percent of the nation’s population, that have made significant sacrifices, even given their lives, to preserve American’s freedoms.
He noted Veterans Day was born from a celebration of the signing of the armistice that brought an end to World War I, once called “the war to end all wars.”
“It’s a tragic fact that hope has not been fulfilled,” Cipriani said, noting World War I alone resulted in the deaths of about 116,000 U.S. troops.
He said veterans, more than anyone, love peace and know war is a tragedy but they also know the price that must be paid for the freedom of Americans and others
“Because we fight for the freedom of everyone, our job is not done,” Cipriani said.
He said the many veterans deserving gratitude for their service include Ed Jackfert of Wellsburg, a World War II veteran who ate raw rice to survive at a Japanese prisoner of war camp and established a local museum to convey the experiences of other POWs; the late John Chernenko, who was wounded twice before entering the Battle of the Bulge, where he also was captured; and Michael J. Smith, a 21-year-old Marine who was killed while attempting to aid a fellow Marine during a skirmish in Iraq.
Cipriani said the large roster of local veterans also includes his later father, Anthony Sr. The son of Italian immigrants, Anthony served in the Army’s 1st Infantry Division during World War II and also was a POW.
Cipriani said when his father’s unit encountered an Italian sentry in Tunisia, he was called upon to use his native tongue to persuade the guard to surrender.
“When the sentry told my father he was betraying his ‘Italian brothers,’ he responded, ‘My brothers are in America,'” he said.
Cipriani said everyone hopes the sons and daughters who currently serve will never have to see combat or attend the memorial service of a fallen comrade. “But the veterans today are the embodiment of the spirit of our nation that has endured for more than 200 years.”
On Friday the foundation continued a recent tradition of honoring a family with multiple members who served in the military with a plaque to be placed in the future gallery of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum in Wellsburg.
Donated by the Wellsburg Lions Club, the plaque will bear the names of five Taibi brothers:
¯ Peter, a Navy chief petty officer, who served between 1943 and 1968, including World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War.
¯ Bart “Buddy,” a private first class in the Army during World War II, who was among troops who liberated political prisoners of the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. Theresa, Bart’s sister, said the family later met a Catholic bishop who told them he had been slated for execution there just before he was freed.
¯ Joseph, an Army private first class, who served in the Korean War.
¯ George, also an Army private first class in the Korean War, who also served in the Army Reserve. George’s daughter, Gina, said her father was involved in both building airport runways and using a manual typewriter to pound out confidential information.
¯ John Taibi, a private first class Marine, who served in Vietnam.
Also participating in the service were Jill Nixon, master of ceremonies; the Rev. Mike McAllister; Brooke choir director Celesta Byard; World War II Marine veteran Gabe Arlia; and the Ohio Valley Veterans Memorial Squad.