|Big Y Donates $1K to North Adams Veterans Memorial|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
06:17PM / Wednesday, July 25, 2012
|Six flags representing the five armed services and prisoner of war/missing in action flank the American flag at the Veterans Memorial. The American flag is at half staff because of the shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colo.|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Korean War veteran Enrico Gaspardi's plea for funds last year to improve the Veterans Memorial brought in more than $6,000 and resulted in the installation of six flags marking the nation's five armed services and POW/MIA.
North Adams Big Y Store Director Raanan Hartman, left, Enrico Gaspardi and Mayor Richard Alcombright with a check for $1,000 from Big Y.
That total was bumped up on Wednesday with the announcement of a $1,000 gift from D'Amours Big Y.
Store Director Raanan Hartman said the family-owned supermarket helps to fund projects and programs in the communities that are home to its 65 stores. It offers more than $250,000 in scholarships each year and has donated millions to educational, cultural and medical programs through corporate and private giving by the D'Amour family.
All the requests are reviewed through the corporate office under the watchful eye of customer service representative Betti Boggis. "He called up the office and talked to Betti and worked it out," said Hartman.
"She said I'll put you down for $1,000 but I can't get it to you until June 1," said Gaspardi. The check actually arrived on May 25.
Mayor Richard Alcombright expressed thanks to Big Y for its community partnership and noted the company's efforts in maintaining and improving its North Adams store.
"This will help the city be able to maintain [the memorial] in the way that Rico would want it to be maintained," said Alcombright, who envisioned adding plaques to note those who served in the Revolution or in the Civil War. He also pointed out that Gaspardi had dug "deep into his pockets" to ensure that the flags kept flying and were in good shape.
||The installation was dedicated on Veterans Day 2011. Watch the video here. Gaspardi, who paid for the flags, hoisted the Army's flag that day.
Gaspardi, who spent 21 years in the Army and obtained the select rank of command sergeant major, said his goal was simple: "I wanted to honor all the veterans, servicemen and women."
There was some urgency to the 84-year-old's quest. Gaspardi had told the mayor he wanted to do it before he died, which Alcombright thought at first meant he was dying (he isn't) then thought "it was his way to put pressure on me."
But Gaspardi noted that he was one of only two listed on the Korean War roll still alive, and that he's buried his three younger brothers in the last two years. John, 74, died on June 26.
The Veterans Memorial has provided a lasting tribute to his brothers and sisters in arms, and a place of contemplation for him.
"Once a week, I go and get a cup of coffee and sit in the park," he said.