On Veterans Day, members of the Father Giorgio Post 689 of the Catholic War Veterans, joined by local veterans, firemen, community members and Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioners, unveiled a brand new granite plaque in Giorgio's honor.
A bronze plaque was dedicated in 1951, but it was stolen two years ago. At the ceremony last Thursday, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol said he was proud to stand in for his father, who secured the site and helped dedicate the original plaque.
“What the thieves thought they got was precious metal,” said Lentol, “but they can't take away the memory of Father Giorgio or the veterans who fought for our country so we could enjoy the freedom we have today.”
During World War II in 1943, Giorgio was drafted into the United States Army as a Catholic chaplain. In March 1945, he sustained a leg injury that required amputation, and shortly after he died of blood poisoning.
“It's nice to see so many people turn out to honor Father Giorgio and veterans,” said C.W.V. Post 689 Commander Paul D'Elia. “We honor their service and sacrifice on Veterans Day.”
Two of Giorgio's nieces, Jeanne Giorgio-Rodino and Marie Giorgio-Francavilla, were on hand to honor the family member who had died when they were just teenagers.
Giorgio-Rodino recalled that even having a leg amputated did not change her uncle's personality in any way, shape or form.
“He had a big adjustment to make – he made it with God's help, of course – but he kept his sense of humor,” she said. “He was a great person.”
Giorgio is most fondly remembered for the time he invested in the neighborhood youth. He encouraged them to attend Mass weekly, and to keep them busy and out of trouble, he founded an award-winning marching band, the Mount Carmel Cadet Corps.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church's Monsignor Joseph Calise, who serves as chaplain of C.W.V. Post 689, pointed out we live in a society that is increasingly trying not to acknowledge the presence of God.
“In fact we live in a society that, more and more, needs the presence of the Divine,” said Calise. “I hope when young people people walk by they will be inspired by Father Giorgio's love of God and country.”