Mayor Mark Blask makes comments during the Veterans Day Ceremony in Eastern Park on Monday.

by Dave Warner

Despite the cold weather and rain, Veterans, Scouts, and local community members gathered in Eastern Park at the Veterans Memorial to pay tribute to those who have served.

David Teall, quartermaster of the Little Falls Veterans of Foreign Wars kicked off the event, and then, Mayor Mark Blask spoke about the importance of the day.

“It’s such a perfect day to talk about Veterans and as I was thinking this morning about what I wanted to talk about, Mr. Leo Gregorka came to mind,” said Blask.

Gregorka was a 98-year-old Little Falls resident, who died on Oct 27th. “Leo led an incredible life. He was not only in the Marine Corps, but he did some incredible things during the battle for Iwo Jima in the Pacific.”

Blask spoke about an 18-year old named Dylan Lyle, who is going to graduate from Marine Corps boot camp on Friday. Lyle had played basketball for Blask. “When we talk about 98 to 18, both raising their hand down in Paris Island, South Carolina and joining the Marines. Those guys don’t have very much in common.”

He went on to talk about how technology is so different today, compared to when Gregorka joined. The fact that Lyle has everything at his fingertips, and yet the television was invented only six years after Gregorka was born. Despite the difference in time and technology, they both found purpose in serving.

“Two incredibly different lifestyles, but they both shared this ethos. They both wanted to serve. What an unselfish act from both of them,” stated Blask.

“Dylan raised his right hand and is going to give the next four years of his life to this country. That’s a pretty noble act. For an 18-year-old, it’s an incredibly noble act. And Mr. Gregorka – we could talk about him for weeks. An amazing life. So between 1921 and 2019 today, we think about all the Veterans in between and those who pre-dated Mr. Gregorka.”

“We think about the Veterans who joined, a volunteer force, and the awesomeness of the fact that you get to choose. So as we leave here today, thank you for coming out in this weather, and thank you for thanking a Veteran. On behalf of everyone out there, we sincerely appreciate it,” Blask, a Navy Veteran himself, said.

The colors were presented, and Dr. Stivala played taps. At the end of the ceremony,  everyone was invited over to the American Legion for refreshments, including coffee and doughnuts.