5/29/2018 - Memorial Day Parade Report: Chief Di Filippo
I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day Holiday Weekend. My apologies to the residents of Green and Wall Streets as Green St. was closed 45 minutes prior to my notification flyer. Although the street was closed, we let any resident, who requested to leave, out of their street and anyone who wanted to come in, prior to 11:45 am, so I don't believe any were truly inconvenienced.
Please forgive this extended post, but I wanted to talk about our 99th Annual Memorial Day Parade and a friend I made along the way. While stopping at our first tribute location at Memorial Field (Prayers are read, gun salute, and taps played) I noted our Parade Grand Marshal, Stan Pawloski, visibly crying as he stood at attention during the event. I walked over to him and asked if he was ok. Mr. Pawloski, wiping his tears, said that he never thought that he would ever be part of such a great event to honor those who served. He noted that he, and his fellow soldiers, did not get the same welcome or services when they returned from Vietnam. He went on to tell me that he lost many of his friends and fellow soldiers during his tour of service in Vietnam and that he felt bad that they couldn't be there to enjoy the outpouring of love and thanks that he was getting. I could tell that Mr. Pawloski was a very strong man (a man's man), but felt a lot of weight on his shoulders today. We moved on to our next location to stop and I immediately went to stand by his side. We continued our conversation and he told me that he felt that he wasn't worthy to receive these accolades by himself and that the true heroes are those who had not come home and those who were buried in the National Cemetery. During the final ceremony, we spoke again as he stood with pride in the National Cemetery and he, again, spoke of how those buried in the Cemetery were the true heroes. After that, we shook hands and promised to meet again soon at the Wawa for Coffee! (I visit there "occasionally"...... lol)
After thinking about the day, I had a few things that I think Mr. Pawloski needs to hear and know. Sir, you are a true hero and example to every one of us and a true patriot for your country. You served with distinction in the US Navy where you were awarded the Sol Polk Award for outstanding performance while assigned to the Seventeenth Battalion as Company Commander. You also received the Quarterly Distinguished Leadership Award due to your skills and devotion and leadership for transforming civilians into great sailors. You were/are a World Class Sailor and were respected and admired for your dedication and leadership through the hardship of the Vietnam War. You represented your fellow War Veterans, of all wars and conflicts, on Memorial Day with honor and class! As you stood at attention, saluting our flag, those alive, and those no longer with us, watched down on you with pride as you were their living representative of what a real man who loves his country truly looks like. Not someone who complains about everything and does nothing to make a difference. A person who made a difference representing those who gave everything to make a difference. You and your fellow soldiers in all of our Armed Forces, alive and fallen, are the reasons the people of our Country are here and have the rights to complain, make a difference, or make their own choices in how to live their lives and we thank each and every one of you for your service! Somewhere in there lies the definition of Memorial Day! It was an honor to speak with you and meet you, Sir, and I look forward to our Coffee at Wawa! Thank you to all those who serve in our Armed Forces!
Thanks for taking a bit of time from your day to read about our 2018 Parade Grand Marshal. I thought it was a story worth telling! Take care and be safe everyone!
-Chief Gene J. Di Filippo