The Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial

Every once in a while life affords you the opportunity to witness, and play a small part in something great.

My friend and college buddy Peter Rizzo had been an official in the Town of Tonawanda; a suburb of Buffalo, New York. I’ve known and worked with quite a few government officials in the past, and Pete is one of the rare few who doesn’t do things for power, attention or with any expectation of reward. He works hard for what he feels is right.

Why am I writing an obviously non-geek post about a friend/ local official?

The answer to that is because Pete accomplished something incredible last week.

On Tuesday, August 18th, the brand new Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial was dedicated. Somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 people showed up to honor our veterans at the unveiling of a spectacular new monument. General Colin Powell delivered the keynote address, and Pete read a Presidential Proclamation from Barack Obama, in addition to his own speech.

Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial

Here’s a video of local news coverage of the event:

A portion of Peter’s speech really underscores the purpose and thought behind the memorial:

All of our veterans sacrificed for us, whether they served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, or Merchant Marine. Whether from private to general, from seaman recruit to admiral, or from airman to general, regardless of rank, every single veteran has sacrificed for us, for our community, for our country. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why the memorial before you lists only names, and not rank. Rank is an honor in and of itself, but service is the common thread that unites them all. We honor all who have served us equally, without prejudice.

Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial V Monument

I had the opportunity to be a sounding-board for Pete throughout the entire process, and help him craft his communications and pitches to get this project off the ground. While I played an incredibly small role in this big project (which entailed raising $100,000 (correction) more than $180,000 and navigating the labyrinth that is local politics), I am just honored to have been a part of it. However, I must confess that I didn’t believe the thing would ever get built.

I seriously underestimated Pete’s dedication, determination and seemingly endless well of patience. He wanted to do something to honor, and remember the sacrifice of all veterans, of all ranks, from all wars. He succeeded.

For most people, the Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial will honor our Country’s veterans. For those of us who know Pete, and understand how hard he worked to make this idea real, the Memorial will also serve as a monument to action. It’s easy to come up with an idea like this. Working nearly six years to make it a reality is something entirely different.

… And that’s worthy of an off-topic post.


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