Niagara Gazette — Joseph “Peppy” DiGregorio died on April 14, 1970, while serving his country as a member of the U.S. Army.
The 19-year-old Niagara Falls native was fighting in Vietnam at the time of his death. That was 43 years ago.
His sister, Flora Travis, and his mother, Domenica DeGregorio, think about him everyday. They’ll never forget the sacrifice he made.
“It’s been so many years, but it still hurts,” Travis said.
Today, members of the DeGregorio family have a place close to home where they can spend a little time reflecting on their loved one’s life and service. The black granite monument of the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial in Hyde Park was designed to be an exact dimensional replica of the white marble Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C. However, Niagara Falls erected its to memorialize and commemorate all of the city’s service members who have been killed in action since the Civil War. “Peppy’s” name is one of 463 inscribed on that main monument.
“It’s an honor to have my brother’s name on the monument,” Travis said. “My family’s very proud. It’s just good to know that he will always be remembered and be memorialized.”
The sealed sarcophagus honoring those who have been killed in action was consecrated by a Catholic priest, an Orthodox priest, a rabbi and a Baptist minister. It contains the personal effects of some of the fallen soldiers whose names it bear, including letters from the government informing families of the deaths of their loved ones, pictures, dog tags and name tags. A Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, a rose, an evergreen and the monument’s original construction drawings were included as well.
“We wanted to give it life so when people are there it had some reverence to it,” said David Fabrizio, a veteran of the Marine Corps, who is one of the founding members of the Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial Commission. “When those various denominations blessed it, it became a sacred place.”