Joseph Detratto apologized Sunday for visibly sobbing as he talked about the surprise Christmas gift his daughter and ex-wife had given him: a brick with his name along the "hometown hero walk," part of the new Gen. Patrick Rea Veterans Plaza at the renovated 80th Avenue Metra Station.
"It was beyond words," said Detratto, who just minutes before had had his picture taken by his daughter, Emily, in front of the brick. "I'm forever grateful for it. It was one of the best gifts I've ever gotten."
Detratto enlisted in the Marines in 1970 and served for two years in the corps. He was scheduled to do a tour of duty in Vietnam, but his unit was not called up as the United States began to pull back from the fighting, he said.
Detratto was one of the hundreds of veterans and their families and friends who attended the village's dual ceremonies Sunday, Nov. 11: the first was to honor Tinley Park's military men and women, and the second was to dedicate the Veterans Plaza in honor of Patrick Rea, a retired brigadier general and current village clerk.
The event began with music from the Central Middle School band and Lincoln-Way North High School's Junior ROTC color guard also was on hand. Members of local veterans organizations, such as Bremen VFW Post 2791, American Legion Post 615 and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, presented the flags of the various groups and military branches. Three veterans and a member of the JROTC color guard, however, took ill during the ceremony.
Mayor Ed Zabrocki presided over the dedication of Veterans Plaza and talked about his friend and colleague of 42 years, listings his many contributions not only to Tinley Park but to people around the globe.
"It's right and just that this plaza is named after Pat Rea," said U.S. Army Maj. David Waters, a Tinley Park native who considers Rea a mentor.
"It's a tremendous honor," Rea said of the plaza dedication. "But I am here because of the veterans. And I am here because of the citizens of Tinley Park. … This republic exists in its state of strength, independence and liberty because of the armed forces of the United States. That's what keeps that liberty."
Check out this article's media gallery for photos from the Veterans Day ceremony. Share your own pictures by uploading them to the story.
Other Veterans Day Stories on Tinley Park Patch:
- Texas Roadhouse Offers Free Lunch for Veterans
- Village Fosters Bond With Its Veterans
- New Veterans Plaza to be Dedicated to Rea
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