ATLANTIC CITY — City officials and veterans will gather Tuesday at O’Donnell Park to commemorate Memorial Day for the last time before the park is taken over by Stockton University as part of the Gateway Project.
John Palmentieri, 91, of Atlantic City, has organized the ceremony for more than 60 years. He will present Mayor Don Guardian with a picture of what the park looked like 100 years ago.
The World War II veteran who earned a Purple Heart medal after he was shot by a German sniper started organizing the ceremony in 1950 with his brothers, Gus, Pompeii and Ralph, all veterans of the war. Palmentieri is the only brother left. He vowed to organize the ceremony every year until he dies.
“We used to have hundreds of people at this ceremony, but there are not many of us left,” he said. “I promised my brothers I would keep this up until I die, and I plan to do that.”
Palmentieri said the ceremony is Tuesday because May 30 is the real Memorial Day.
“We’re doing this right,” he said. “We don’t go by the day that the government made up to give us a three day weekend.”
The ceremony will start at 11 a.m. Assemblyman Chris Brown, a Gulf War veteran, also will speak.
”As a veteran, it’s an honor for me to join Mr. Palmentieri in the ceremony he and his brothers began when they returned home from World War II and has dedicated over 60 years of his life honoring our service men and women, which gained special meaning since the event now also honors his deceased brothers, for whom he promised to continue the ceremony,” Brown said.
— John DeRosier