Home » Overdue honor for a life lost in Korea

Overdue honor for a life lost in Korea

NORTH CANAAN — The parade route through the town center was lined with children waving flags, dogs large and small, families sitting together on the roadside in folding chairs or perched in vintage Jeep Willys or on the tailgates of their pickup trucks. 

The biggest crowd congregated around the Doughboy monument, where the parade eventually ended (after beginning in the parking lot of Town Hall and processing along a few residential side streets and then onto Route 7). 

Leading the parade were war veterans — naturally so, on this day when Americans remember lives lost in military service. In addition to veterans who returned home, there was also a trio of North Canaan men dressed in Revolutionary War-style garb. 

Following behind were school groups, 4-H club members, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, fire company volunteers and more. This year’s VFW Poppy Princess, Kaelary Gwinn (an eighth grader at North Canaan Elementary School), looked poised as she perched on the back of a red convertible, waving to the crowd like a seasoned parade professional.

Tom Gailes, in full dress uniform, was the master of ceremonies once the crowd had communed around the Doughboy. He introduced Ken Merrill, pastor for VFW Couch Pipa, in North Canaan, who offered two invocations during the ceremony. 

Gailes also introduced First Selectman Charles Perotti, who asked the crowd for a moment of silence to “remember those service members who are only here in spirit.” In particular, he cited two veterans who had died recently, Izzy Tadiello and Champ Nagel. 

Marine Corps veteran Nick Gandolfo presented a bench that sits in the park near the Doughboy. The bench was dedicated to the memory of PFC Richard A. Zukowski, the only North Canaan resident to die while serving in the Korean War.

Gandolfo and Zukowski had known each other since childhood and attended North Canaan Elementary School together. They were both serving in Korea shortly after enlisting. Zukowski died at the age of 19, just a few months after arriving in the war zone.

Gandolfo said it was important to remember Zukowski and that his memorial honor was long overdue. 

Gailes then talked about the Gold Star Family Fund, an organization that he is a member of, which helps the families of deceased service members. 

It was hard to remain somber on an exceptionally beautiful and sunny day, one of the few in a very wet spring. Gailes wrapped up the brief Memorial Day ceremony and encouraged everyone in the community to be mindful of the lives that were lost but also to enjoy the day.

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