… and those caissons go rolling along. This morning while walking I was thinking about “The Caisson Song” on this Veteran’s Day 2014. This was one of the first songs I learned to play on the accordion back in the 60s and I probably drove my parents crazy playing it several times each day ‘til my accordion teacher moved on to the next lesson and a new song. My trek through the neighborhoods, down to the Park and along a nice asphalt trail in comfortable clothes and walking shoes could never be one iota as treacherous or demanding as the route many of our armed forces personnel must march on or travel every day … mine is a cakewalk for sure.
Not wanting to miss one minute of this last, beautiful, calm-before-the-storm-and-brutal-cold- weather day, I left the house as soon it was light outside. Destination: Council Point Park followed by a quick jag over to Memorial Park to the memorial pavilion area. On my last visit to the Park on Sunday, I couldn’t help but notice a new memorial wreath under a large fir tree. My interest piqued, I went over to look at the wreath and decided to take a picture of it and the tree for today’s blog post. The memorial wreath commemorates a Marine – Sergeant Donald J. Di Pietro. A light-yellow silk ribbon says “In Loving Memory”. I paused a moment in front of the wreath before leaving while wondering about the fate of Sergeant Di Pietro. Was he a career Marine? An elderly veteran? Or was he a young man, like Lincoln Park High School graduate Sergeant Craig Frank, who enlisted in the Army National Guard, and was deployed to Iraq to the campaign known as “Operation Iraqi Freedom”? Sergeant Frank’s dreams and life were cut short at age 24 in 2004 from injuries from a RPG. A permanent Fallen Heroes memorial honors him in Memorial Park and I wrote about at length in last year’s Veteran’s Day blog post: https://lindaschaubblog.net/2013/11/11/remembering-and-honoring-our-vets/ … I wondered all these things, just from looking at that brightly colored wreath sitting solemnly in front of the stately fir tree. I left and began my walk. Much later that day, after returning home, when I downloaded the pictures from the camera, I examined the close-up photo of the wreath but couldn’t quite read the spelling of the Marine’s name. I decided to return today to find out his complete name so I could do some internet research to delve into any info about this Marine. It turned out his story is just as heart-wrenching as Sergeant Frank’s, but in a different way. Coincidentally, both young men attended and were graduated from Lincoln Park High School, some five years apart. I found out that Sergeant Donald Di Pietro passed away at age 28, on March 9, 2013. But he didn’t die from injuries sustained from defending his country. Instead, after serving six years in Iraq and Mexico, this decorated serviceman was then stationed in Texas. He was off-duty and riding his motorcycle in San Angelo, Texas, enroute to meet some fellow Marine buddies at 7:30 p.m.. He was killed instantly as a result of a drunk driver, sadly, someone who had several other instances of driving while intoxicated already. Sergeant Di Pietro was to be promoted to Staff Sergeant in the near future. I found this news story about this young serviceman:
On this Veteran’s Day and always, thank you to all who have served and continue to serve this country.