Dozens of American flags have sprouted in the middle of Goshen. Each recognizes someone’s hero.
The Flags for Heroes display at Charles J. Everett Memorial Park, which can be viewed until Nov. 22, is a project of Goshen Rotary. Each of the 155 flags carries a medallion with a hero’s name and his or her sponsor.
And each flag has a story.
Among those recognized is Lou Allen, a teacher and National Guard first lieutenant who was killed by an American soldier during a “fragging” incident.
Ken Obremski said that his son-in-law left his wife and four young children for a tour of duty in Iraq because “he wanted to serve his country.”
Obremski said that Allen was a nice guy who was respected by his students, many of whom he influenced to join the military.
“There should be more people like him in the world,” Obremski said.
The student career of Anthony diBennedetto at the Pratt Institute was paused by World War II during which he served as a navigator for the Army Air Corps in the Pacific. His plane was shot down in June 1945, and eight of its nine-member crew parachuted into the ocean. Seven were rescued by the submarine Sea Fox after 24 hours fending off thirst, exhaustion and circling sharks.
After the war, diBennedetto completed his degree and worked for the Air Force as a civilian in Spain for many years. He rarely talked about the war after returning to the states, but in his mid-80s he obtained a copy of a video showing his rescue from the submarine’s archives. He burst into tears when he saw the video.
diBennedetto died two years ago at the age of 94. His niece Beth Quinn said she and her husband Bob “chose to raise a flag in Uncle Tony’s honor precisely because he didn’t think he was a hero. Like most of the men and women who served he felt he was simply doing his job. He was not a humble person in general but he was humble about serving his country.”
Sally Carpolongo is a nurse on the pandemic front lines.
“She has worked effortlessly and with very deep compassion to ensure that the people she is looking after are very well taken care of,” said Alexander Klieverik.
Klieverik said that his friend wouldn’t consider herself a hero, but he and his wife Roshni “wanted to make sure that we honor her bravery and commitment.”
Christopher Ashman has two heroes.
He praised his 10 granddaughter Makenna Hadden for diligence in her schoolwork, the pandemic notwithstanding.
Ashman also is proud of how well his developmentally disabled brother Craig has adapted since his father died and he had to move to a group home. Ashman plans to bring Craig to the park so he can take his picture next to his flag.
Rotary raised $4,000 from the contributions of sponsors and other donations to Flags for Heroes, the only fund raiser it has been able to hold this year.
The club held a brief presentation on Nov. 1. Speakers who read the names of the heroes were president Mark Gargiulo, Rob McLean, Rolland Peacock, Patrick Foley, Martin Schwartz and Amy van Amburgh.
Kevin Palacino, scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 62, coordinated its participation with that of Cub Scout Troop 62. Scout Michael Lombardi played Taps.