Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — ARLINGTON, Va. — In a solemn ceremony at one of our nation’s sacred sites, four local veterans who answered the call to service seventy years ago honored their brothers and sisters who’ve come to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
A group of more than ninety veterans and their families were in Washington last week as part of the 2012 Patriot Trip, a four-day experience organized by Assemblyman Steve Hawley.
Among the veterans attending the fifth-annual event were World War II veterans Stanley Stefaniak of Medina, Mike Paduchak of Kendall, Don Nagle of LeRoy and Nick Zinni of Batavia. Saturday, they played a central role in the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unkowns.
With instructions from the sentinels who protect the tomb, Stefaniak, Paduchak, Nagle and Zinni stepped forward with silent reverence to place a wreath at the burial site for unknown war dead from World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Their dignified act was observed with pride by the rest of the Patriot Trip and assemblage of visiting veterans, Girl Scouts and families.
“This is the greatest honor we can bestow on our fellow veterans,” Stefaniak, who served as an operation of a power station at a military installation in the Arctic Circle during the war, said before the ceremony.
Stefaniak and his felow veterans were serious in their responsibility, following the precision of a member of the tomb’s honor guard with a march to the tomb and salute after presenting a flowered wreath.
Afterwards, there were smiles and relief as they were cheered by their trip-mates.
“That wasn’t too hard,” said Zinni, who served as a radioman in South Pacific.
“That was worse than going into battle,” joked Paduchack, who wore his Army uniform in the ceremony.