A newspaper clipping from the North Adams Transcript giving news of Samuel Sacco's death.
Members of the Sacco family and others participate in a flag raising ceremony at the North Adams American Legion on Sunday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – The sacrifice of the Sacco family is part of history.
A piece of World War II memorabilia that honors the Saccos at North Adams American Legion Post 125 has a bit of legend attached to it.
“While doing my research, I was not able to find the exact source of where this propeller comes from,” Post 125 Commander Mitchell Kiel said on Sunday afternoon. “Which makes my job up here today a little bit easier, because I can exaggerate how we came in possession of it.”
Kiel then told the tale of the propeller to the crowd gathered to honor Peter, Ralph, Samuel, Anthony, Pasquale and Joseph Sacco.
It’s a story that involves the kind of trouble that brothers sometimes find, Kiel said.
“While Pat and Tony were both in England, hoping to meet up with their brother Sam, what I know as ‘Secret Squirrel Mission’ occurred,” he said. “The two brothers, having not seen each other for a period of two years caught up personally and professionally and then fell back into their young, mischievous ways as they were back in North Adams.
“With one thing leading to another and going dare for dare, there’s one famous military saying: ‘Gear adrift is a gift.’ The propeller found its way back to the states with Tony giving it to the post some time later.”
None of the Sacco brothers is around today to confirm or deny that account, but their memories live on at the Legion and in the hearts of their fellow veterans, family members and everyday Americans who benefit from the sacrifices of the brothers and millions like them during the Second World War.
Dozens of members of the brothers’ extended family were on hand for a midday ceremony at Post 125, where statewide Legion officials joined local veterans in a flag-raising ceremony and the dedication of a plaque recognizing the Sacco brothers that will be displayed at the American Legion Drive facility along with the propeller. The latter is a fitting testament to the Saccos, whose postings included an Air Depot Group in the South Pacific (Peter) and, in Europe, the Army Air Corps (Anthony and Joseph) and 110th Bomber Group (Pasquale).
Anthony’s daughter, Margaret Ciepiela, shared with the crowd in the Legion hall a brief biographical sketch of each of the Sacco brothers, including Samuel, who was just 24 when he enlisted in 1942 and was the only one of the six brothers not to survive the war.
“[Samuel M. Sacco] was killed in action in Germany on March 1, 1945,” Ciepiela said. “It was said that Uncle Sam was legally blind, and that was a deterrent leading to his death. He was returned home with the rank of Private First Class and is buried in Southview Cemetery.
Ciepiela thanked the members of the American Legion for making Sunday’s event possible.
“The American Legion was a large part of our family, and we are very thankful that they continue the tradition of paying tribute and helping our veterans,” she said.
Current State Representative and long-time North Adams Mayor John Barrett III said that the Sacco family has been instrumental in helping the city honor those who served.
“[Anthony Sacco] let me know in no uncertain terms when I came into office in 1984 that he expected a lot from our recognition of veterans,” Barrett said. “I think he was an impetus behind getting … a memorial to our veterans and those who served our country up on Veterans Drive.
“It always bothered me that we had Veterans Memorial Drive yet we never had any memorial along there. And he’s one of the reasons why we had it constructed back in the late 1990s, early 2000s.”
North Adams’ current mayor told the crowd that the Saccos’ lives of service continued into peacetime.
“It is really my honor to be here today for the important event of honoring your family,” Jennifer Macksey said. “In addition to fighting on behalf of our country, the Sacco family made a notable contribution to this community. And we owe our thanks to Anthony, Samuel, Pat, Peter, Ralph and Joe for their bravery as well as to the families for the sacrifices that were made.
“Today is a celebration of all those sacrifices, and we dedicate today to the Sacco brothers. They were veterans, volunteers, civic leaders, businessmen, family people, but, most importantly, they were our friends and our neighbors and our loved ones.”
Pastor Dave Anderson from the First Baptist Church concluded Sunday’s ceremony with an invocation. Anderson said when he was asked to participate in the event, he did not realize the impact it would have.
“While we outside watching the flag raised and lowered and folded while Taps was being played, and while we listened to the story of the six brothers, I found myself praying to God that, ‘May I never stop getting a lump in my throat,’ “ Anderson said. “May we never stop being filled with gratitude for the sacrifices that have been made for us through the decades. May we never stop being proud of this nation, that all of these men and women have gone off to Foreign soil to fight for.”
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