By Andrea Swalec
LITTLE ITALY — Little Italy tipped its hat to its veterans on Memorial Day, unveiling a wall engraved with the names of residents who have served in the military.
The painted concrete wall at Most Precious Blood Church on Mulberry Street lists the names of more than 400 veterans, most of whom served in World War II, said Ralph Tramontana, president of the Little Italy Merchants Association.
"We started thinking there were a lot of people in the area who died in wars. We just wanted to honor them," Tramontana said.
A few hundred people attended the unveiling ceremony and listened to a U.S. Marine Band play.
After U.S. Marine Pfc. Frank Vallone was killed in Vietnam on Sept. 11, 1968, friends put a plaque outside the church with his name. Soon after, U.S. Marines placed a wreath on the plaque every year on the anniversary of his death.
Then, about eight years ago, a priest at Most Precious Blood found another plaque in the church, with the names of military personnel killed in World War I.
Tramontana and members of LIMA decided then that they wanted to do more for local veterans than recite their names every year. They agreed to create the wall.
LIMA is gradually adding names as families submit them, Tramontana said.
"We just put a little dent in the number of people [who served]," he said. It's just the right thing to do"