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For God and Country in Dyker Heights

by Marie Elena Giossi


Knights of Columbus Host Annual Independence Day Parade in Dyker Heights 

Dyker Heights residents waved the emblem of the land they love as the Knights of Columbus held its 109th annual Independence Day Parade last Saturday, June 28.
Under sunny skies, vintage cars, motorcyclists, dance and karate schools, local Girl Scout troops and representatives from various councils participated in the line of march along 13th Avenue, from 71st Street to Archbishop John Hughes Council No. 481 on 86th Street. 
Sponsored by the Long Island Assembly No. 703, the parade honored Anthony Vesco, who led the way as grand marshal. Flanking him were Vincent “Jimmy” Geritano, parade chairman, and Louis Pepe, recipient of this year’s Pro Patria Award.
A fourth-degree Knight, Vesco has been a member of Archbishop Hughes Council for 14 years. A former district deputy, he currently serves as warden for the 47 councils in Kings County. 
Outside of the Knights, he is a registered nurse in the emergency room at the Brooklyn VA Hospital. He and his wife of 26 years, Laura, have one daughter, and the family attends St. Frances Cabrini Church, Bensonhurst.

The Knights of Columbus Long Island Assembly No. 703 hosts the 109th Annual Independence Day Parade in Dyker Heights, June 28, 2014.

From left, Jimmy Geritano, parade chairman; Anthony Vesco, parade grand marshal and Louis Pepe, Pro Patria awardee.

USO Show Troupe is picture perfect.

Vesco, center, receives plaque from James Nania, left, and Geritano, right.

Pepe, center, receives his plaque from Geritano, right, and Nania, left.

Congresssman Michael Grimm and State Sen. Marty Golden confer certificates while Father Guy Sbordone, far right, gave his blessing.


Proud to Be an American

As Pepe strode along 13th Avenue, he said, “I’m proud to be an American. It’s a great privilege to be free and to choose what you wish to choose.”
He is a lifelong member of Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen parish, Carroll Gardens. He joined the Knights of Columbus at Our Lady of Loretto Council No. 585 in 1978.
He is a former district deputy, a past grand knight and past faithful navigator of the Long Island Assembly. 
He is secretary of the Knights of Columbus’ Long Island Chapter and Kings County Conference. A Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, he currently serves as knight commander.
A staunch advocate for life from conception to natural death, he has served as the N.Y.S. Catholic advocacy coordinator for the Knights of Columbus and is vice president of Rosary for Life, Inc.
By day, he’s a lieutenant in the enforcement division of the N.Y.C. Department of Sanitation. 
On receiving the Pro Patria Award, he said, “It’s an honor that my brother Knights would consider me,  and it’s an honor to be in company with such great people.”
The Father John Brogan Service Award went to Wyn Powers, founder and president of Rosary for Life. She was unable to attend the parade as Rosary for Life was having its annual retreat with Bishop Frank Caggiano.
Following the parade, participants and attendees found relief from the hot sun at Archbishop Hughes Council, where they enjoyed grilled hot dogs and cold water. Costumed boys and girls from a local dance school performed.
Award ceremonies followed indoors with Knight Rick Kenney, last year’s grand marshal, serving as emcee.  Plaques were presented to Vesco and Pepe. Congressman Michael Grimm and State Sen. Marty Golden offered remarks and citations for the honorees. 
After accepting his award, Vesco extended his thanks and spoke about what Independence Day means to him.
He began by explaining that   he regularly watches Currents, the nightly news show on the Brooklyn diocesan television station, NET-TV.
“They do a report every episode on what’s going on in the world,” he said. “Churches are being broken down. Christians are being chased from their homes and moving out of their towns because of what is happening in the rest of the world.”


Freedom on My Mind
The nightly newscasts came to his mind as he was walking in the parade, he said.
“Fourth of July is coming and what does that mean to me? Today, I got the opportunity to walk down 13th Avenue breathing fresh air with freedom on my mind, and I pray that our grandchildren and their grandchildren enjoy that same feeling of freedom as they grow up in this country.”
In presenting Pepe’s award, Kenney said, “The Pro Patria Award means ‘for country’ and it is for service to both our Church and country. He (Pepe) certainly does his part for his church and his country.” 
Pepe accepted his plaque and accepted on behalf of Powers as well.
Special recognition was also given to Knight John “Moe” Maloney, who is retiring as commander of the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Color Corps. 
Three ladies dressed in red, white and blue  – the USO Liberty Bells Show Troupe – closed the ceremonies by entertaining the crowd with an array of songs, including “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.” 
Before the Knights and their families, friends and neighbors dispersed, Kenney offered this challenge: “When you leave here today, don’t leave your patriotism behind in this room.
“Buy a U.S. flag lapel pin and wear it proudly. Fly a flag from your house. We need to see more of that.
“And before you go to bed tonight, give thanks for this wonderful country we live in and say a prayer for the holy innocents of abortion.”
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