Niagara Gazette —
Stories like DeGregorio’s drove the development of the memorial, a place of tribute made of 1,800 tons of solid, U.S. granite. In addition to the names of those fallen soldiers from the Falls, families, friends and visitors will find the names (1,500 and counting) of other veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces from all over the nation and around the world. Those names are inscribed on a section of the memorial known as the “Veterans Wall of Honor.” It was erected to allow those veterans who served with honor to “stand watch” over their fallen brothers and sisters in arms.
In terms of volume of granite, commission members say the Falls memorial ranks second in size to only the Atlantic and Pacific Arches found at the World War II monument in Washington, D.C.
“It is a real accomplishment,” said commission member Ken Hamilton, one of the first local veterans to recommend construction of a monument for the city’s fallen soldiers. “It far exceeded my wildest expectations.”
The veterans memorial grew out of a discussion dating back to June of 2007 when family members and friends of local soldiers Aram Bass and Lorne Henry Jr. — both of whom were killed in action during the Iraq War — approached city lawmakers in hopes of having streets named after their loved ones.
Several local veterans suggested the city take a different course — the development of monument that would honor all soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“We all had the same view,” Fabrizio said. “We had no idea we were going to have a commission or do anything like this.
As word spread, a loose-knit committee comprised of a handful of area vets representing various branches of the military grew into a formal non-profit organization. In February of 2008, Niagara Falls Veterans Memorial Commission, Inc. was officially born. The commission included Fabrizio as chair along with: Vice Chairman Michael “Mickey” Rimmen, USMC; Secretary Thomas Robbins, USAF; Treasurer David Venditti, USN/USAF and commissioners Duane Frost, USMC; Kenneth Gerg, USAF; Rich Slepinski, USMC; Stan Zimmerman, USA/USAF and Hamilton, USN.