The life lesson of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” is that the gift of self is the greatest gift of all. It is not property, riches or status, but the people in your life and community that are precious commodities and should be treated with care and respect. Many soldiers and their families know what the ultimate gift of self is first hand. When members of the community wanted to acknowledge and honor that ultimate gift, sacrifice to country, we saw that lesson learned by George Bailey shine in multitudes throughout our community. The pursuit to construct a permanent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was truly a community effort.
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One business in particular not only gave of themselves, but led and encouraged others to follow suit. Local masonry firm E. Troiano & Sons offered their services as general contractor and concrete supplier as well as manpower for the project and didn’t stop there. Seeing what needed to be done and the expertise it would require to bring this memorial to fruition, Ernie Troiano Jr. reached out to those in the community he knew could help. He contacted engineers and architects to create construction plans. He also contacted members of the Wildwood Carpenters Union and the Tile, Marble and Terrazzo Union for their expertise and time. Mr. Troiano also aided in the installation of an electronic kiosk to aid visitors searching for names on the wall. Everything from landscaping and pavers to lights, Ernie Troiano Jr. lined up plans, materials, and labor; much of it donated. He even reached out to the Sons of Italy to donate land for the site. “Bottom line,” according to Vince DiPrinzio, Chairman of The Vietnam Wall Committee, “if it wasn’t for E. Troiano and Sons, this wall would not have been completed.” And the work continues.
The finished monument was revealed May 29 of 2010, but work continues on the surrounding landscape, walkways and adjoining area around the monument and Fox Park. Since the installation of the wall, various additions and improvements such as a complete lighting system, flags, a marquee sign with concrete base, a Korean War Memorial and POW Memorial, and security camera system have been initiated or completed with help from The Sons of Italy, Rio Grande Fire Company, The Holly Beach Fire Company, and Johnson Electric among others. E. Troiano and Sons ability to collaborate encourages others to be involved and participate in community projects; bringing home the true meaning of the word ‘community’ by example.
E. Troiano and Sons is still overseeing projects and giving their time and efforts whenever needed. In published interviews Mr. Troiano has stated: “I do this in memory of my father and all those who served.” “There’s 58 thousand soldiers plus that are on this wall…you know we’re here because of them…this is just my way of saying thank you.” Mr. Troiano’s father was a merchant marine.
The wall itself was two years in the planning and approval process and was eventually constructed in about six weeks. It measures 240 feet long and 5 feet, 5 inches high at its highest point. It is a half size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and the only one of its kind in the Northeast. As with the original Memorial, visitors can see their reflection simultaneously with the etched names; a truly humbling and moving experience.
It could also be noted that prior to the aforementioned memorials, E. Troiano and Sons completed the concrete work and installation of another prominent monument in their community; the Fireman’s Memorial Monument located outside the Wildwood Convention Center. As a member of the Five Mile Beach Fireman’s Association, Mr. Troiano and fellow members worked for the establishment of this memorial to honor fallen firefighters in the state of New Jersey. A fitting placement as the New Jersey State Fireman’s Convention has long been held in Wildwood.
Community involvement and service is an encouraged way of life for Ernie Troiano Jr. and his employees. He actively supports Wildwood High School and is a co-founding member of the Boardwalk Basketball Classic Tournament, now in its sixteenth year. The tournament is the largest coed high school basketball tournament in the country and has raised over $305,000 in scholarship funds. He is also a member of the Holly Beach Volunteer Fire Company as are most of his employees.
Crest Savings Bank is proud to nominate E. Troiano & Sons for this year’s Bailey Award for giving the gift of themselves to their community all year long.
Submitted by: Crest Savings Bank