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Vets want to remember the fallen

Project to hang memorial flags seeks community support

Tom Regan, Gene Loparco and Joe Pollicino stand with one of the mourning flags they hope to place in the Town of Colonie for Memorial Day.

Tom Regan, Gene Loparco and Joe Pollicino stand with one of the mourning flags they hope to place in the Town of Colonie for Memorial Day. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— Over the course of just a few months, the project has already received the blessing of elected officials, too, including Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan.

“I’m really honored that it’s going to be in the Town of Colonie so our people can participate in this event,” Mahan said. “I just think it’s a wonderful project and I wholeheartedly support it. I think it’s a great way to honor those that have served our country.”

As a second part to the project, any funds that exceed the $25,000 cost will go to fixing up the deteriorating Albany County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Joe Pollicino, a Vietnam vet and friend of Regan’s since high school, began the memorial rededication project a year ago, but has collected only $50,000 towards the necessary $250,000. Pollicino said they plan to replace the area surrounding the memorial with granite and add granite benches. When Pollicino heard about Regan’s project, they both knew they needed to collaborate.

“Every dime over the cost of the flags will go to the memorial,” Regan said.

The team has to raise the money for the flags by April 1 to order them a month in advance. They already have a group of volunteers to mount the flags onto poles. A week before Memorial Day, when the flags are officially hung, Regan said they the group wants to have a dignified procession of people walk along the route and salute to each flag to honor the victims. The flags will also only be hung up for a couple of months so their purpose won’t be “taken for granted,” Loparco said, and he hopes the display and procession can become an annual affair.

“It’s unbelievable the reception we’ve gotten,” Regan said. “It’s a labor of love.”

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