Luke Quagliana of Chestertown tamped down a paver in a new sidewalk he and a dozen fellow workers were constructing May 16 in the town of Chester Veterans Memorial Plaza.
They were part of a crew of 40 volunteers, employees of several Home Depot stores in the Capital Region who came to build walkways and landscape at the Veterans memorial. They were taking an unpaid day off to assist in the project.
Looking up from his work, Quagliana gazed at the four multi-ton granite monuments that bear hundreds of names of veterans and soldiers who fought in wars and conflicts over the past 275 years.
“I feel for all those guys who have served or are serving now,” he said with a solemn face. “I wouldn’t be here working in the sunshine today if it weren’t for them.”
One of those soldiers is Quagliana’s son, Luke Jr., who’s a Marine serving his second tour in Afghanistan.
Working next to Quagliana was Steve Walters, also from Chestertown. Both are Home Depot employees. Months Ago, Walters and his wife Linda alerted Home Depot about the Chestertown veterans’ memorial project, prompting the home improvement chain to become involved.
Walters said he and his wife wanted to do their part for the monument enhancement because they have a strong bond with Chestertown as well as a deep respect for service personnel defending our nation.
Walters said they moved up to the area soon after the Sept. 11 2001 terrorist attacks. He knew people killed in the attacks and had friends working in the rescue and recovery efforts afterwards.
“9-11 was terrible,” he said. “Soon after, I said ‘That’s it, we’re done,’ and we moved up north.” Steve and Linda drove up the Northway, and incidentally stopped off in Chestertown.
“We just fell in love with the town, so we settled here,” Walters said.