by Tom Pedulla
The delightful sounds of children romping at a nearby playground echoed as 45 former North Tarrytown High School students who died in World War II were honored during recent ceremonies at Winfield L. Morse School.
The children knew nothing of Chick Galella, 96, a Pearl Harbor survivor who played a lead role in organizing the event to salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. “When you are 20 years old and your best friend gets killed, John Horan who lived on Beekman Avenue, I have to honor these boys,” said an emotional Galella.
The children did not see Filomena Fallacaro cry as she thought of Nicolo, her brother who never came home from the war. “I will never forget him,” she said. “I think of him every day.”
The children did not stop running, climbing and jumping while the Sleepy Hollow High School marching pep band performed, while bagpiper Larry Cassidy played strains of “Going Home” and “Amazing Grace,” while Cameron Allan, a Sleepy Hollow junior who aspires to attend West Point, sounded “Taps.”
The children who were oblivious to the somber gathering may someday understand the staggering price paid decades ago — and how much it impacted their lives. For now, the proceedings served as a reminder to those much older, a reminder Fallacaro believes is necessary.
“I think some people have forgotten. They just don’t care,” she said. “There are people left behind who really care.”
Micah Sprague, who led the Sleepy Hollow band, saw the event as an invaluable teaching moment for his students.
“I think it is good for them to see a window back to the time when so much of the country was in a unified struggle and so much of the country was in the armed services,” Sprague said. “I think it is good for them to see what that generation felt about the country and the armed services.”
Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray noted in his remarks that more than 16 million Americans served in uniform during World War II, including more than 1,200 from what was then North Tarrytown.
“Freedom is not free,” Wray said. “It has been, and will continue to be paid for, by the sacrifices of our fellow citizens to ensure that the values and ideals we hold dear as a nation will endure for future generations.”
After the ceremony, co-chairman Roman Windas completed the roll call of the deceased. Former Marine Corps Captain Greg Lobato told those assembled, “Each life lost from North Tarrytown has been a brick laid in this country’s foundation. By remembering and honoring our fallen, we teach our younger generations about who we are and where we came from. We prepare our future generations for the challenges they may face, so that they may ultimately prevail.”
Lobato noted that, in some respects, not much has changed since World War II.
“We Americans don’t believe in appeasement. We believe in freedom,” he said. “Don’t believe for a second that life is so sweet and peace so dear that it is to be purchased at the price of oppression.”
North Tarrytown’s Fallen Soldiers:
Leigh F. Anderson, John M. Azaltovic, Sylvester F. Baglieri, Chester Barrett, Harold T. Booth, Charles T. Brophy, Irving Brundage, John Callaghan, Michael J. Chaklos, Lawrence F. Daley, Oscar W. Diem, Nicolo T. Fallacaro, Kenneth C. Fisher, Melvin V. Geldern, Felix J. Girone, Royce D. Gibson, William F. Hennessey, John J. Horan, Charles J. Husted, Jr., Oscar R. Jackson, Frank J. Johnson, Daniel T. Joyce, Joseph J. Kelly, Joseph J. Kofka, Edward A. Kolarich, Joseph M. Kovach, Walter J. Kupinski, Anthony J. Lombardi, Hubert J. Lynch, Henry V. Madden, Herbert J. Maher, Jr., Louis J. Mansa, Charles R. Miller, Mario Morro, Daniel J. Mullane, Edwin T. Nee, Anthony J. Rizzi, William C. Schmidt, Jr., Joseph T. Scogna, Anthony J. Simnowski, Albert W. Sing III, Nicholas M. Soriano, Edward T. White, Harry L. Xenos.