One of the Diocese of Buffalo's own military veterans received a special recognition just before Veterans Day. Msgr. Dino J. Lorenzetti was inducted in The Buffalo and Erie Country Naval and Military Park's Wall of Honor on Nov. 10.
Msgr. Lorenzetti proudly served in the U. S. Army's Air Corps, enlisting in 1942 and staying until the end of World War II. The Wall of Honor is a permanent tribute and remembrance to those courageous Western New York men and women in all branches of the armed forces who served and sacrificed in U.S. wars and military actions.
John Vecchio, a member of the park's advisory council, inducted Msgr. Lorenzetti. He admitted that it's hard to pack 96 years of one's life into three minutes, but he attempted while giving an overview of Msgr. Lorenzetti's long life.
After enlisting in 1942, Msgr. Lorenzetti served at bootcamp in Rome, N.Y. His unit, the 312th Depot Repair Squadron Supply Unit, had the task of preparing and readying military aircraft that had been damaged in battle to fly again.
"You don't have to take a bullet to be a hero," Vecchio said, before quoting President John F. Kennedy, "There is a lot of courage just in living."
"Living according to God's will is what Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti has done every day of his life," he said. "What I love about Dino is his authentic enduring love for humanity, his deep unshakable faith, and his perennial enthusiasm. Those virtues make him a military leader of character, a beloved priest, and a dear friend to many."
Msgr. Lorenzetti was ordained to the priesthood in 1953, serving throughout the diocese before retiring in July 1996.
At 96 years old, Msgr. Lorenzetti still celebrates Mass, usually at St. Martha Parish in Depew or Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tonawanda. He still gathers with the families of his buddies and offers Mass for the living and departed members of his Army family.
"If anyone can say they served both his country and God, it is truly Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti," Vecchio said.
A personal motto used in his squad's yearbook read, "Two willing hands."
"Think about the power of those words," Vecchio said. "Two willing hands that served to repair our nations aircraft, two willing hands that blessed the gathering at the USS Sullivan this past summer, two willing hands that have repaired lost souls, baptized babies, blessed the sick and dying, and two willing hands that celebrate the glory of God at Mass every day."
Along with a gold plaque that hangs on the Wall of Honor in the park's Hangar Building, Msgr. Lorenzetti received a certificate for his own wall.
"I'm consumed by the joy you have allowed me to have in being recognized," he said from the podium to a standing-room-only crowd of over 100. "I accept this honor on behalf of the men and women who really have earned it. Those are the real heroes. It is in their name that I say thank you to all of you, for you are beautiful people of faith. It was Jesus who said, 'Greater love than this no one has, than he or she who gives his life for her fellow man.' That is what these veterans have done. They have given their life for us. There is no greater sign of love."
The ceremony also honored Edmund Mozgawa and Jeremiah Reilly, who were lost in battle during World War II; Harry Uhl and Gerald Sansone, surviving veterans; and Dolores Kwiatkowski, longtime employee at the Military Park. It also marked the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Juneau, a light cruiser sunk by Japanese forces. The five Sullivan brothers were aboard at the time.