Knights honor military veterans in weekend celebration

GREENVILLE — Knights of Columbus Council 1668 will add eight names to its “Wall of Honor” during a special Memorial Day weekend salute to council military veterans.

The ceremony begins Sunday at 3 p.m. at the council hall on Laurens Road in Greenville. The names of five living council members and three deceased members will be read.

Brass nameplates of the eight newest members will be added to the wall. Stars will be placed next to the three deceased members.

The eight new additions raises the total number on the wall to 126 – 26 of those with stars beside their name.

The brass plates are slowly filling in the roughly 5-foot-by-5-foot, wood-framed display. They are listed atop a huge red, white and blue star with each point representing the five branches of service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

Council member and Vietnam Veteran Richard Cortese started the search for names for the wall three years ago.

“We’re the oldest council in the Upstate and the third oldest in the state, and so I sent letters out to the old members, to the widows of members, to churches and to anyone else I could think of asking for names of former members,” Cortese said.

The initial response at times was more than Cortese and the council could handle.

“I had people call me wanting their husbands’ names put on the wall,” he said. “But when I ask them if they’re members of the council and they say ‘no,’ I hate to have to tell them that we only honor the people of this council.

“What that wall represents is members of Council 1668 who have served honorably in the military for our country,” Cortese said, “not necessarily in combat, but they served our nation when asked to do so.”

For the first time this year, the council is sending invitations to the eight inductees. A student from Greenville High School will play taps as the eight names are read; a ROTC unit from the school will post the colors and dozens of American flags will be displayed around the council grounds.

“This is a project that’s very close to my heart,” Cortese said. “I come from a military family.”

Cortese said his son is a decorated Gulf War veteran, and both father and son are honored on the Greenville County Veterans Memorial.

“I had six uncles in World War II and two in Korea,” he said.

Cortese said he doesn’t know how many Council 1668 members and former members are still missing from the wall. The council started in 1913 at St. Mary’s in Greenville, but many of those members left to join other councils that formed in the Greenville area.

“It’s difficult to communicate with everybody,” Cortese said.

Council member Ray Karam, a Navy veteran who came to America from Jerusalem when he was 13, said the council advertises for names regularly in the council’s newsletter.

The names currently on the council wall represent nearly every parish in Greenville County, Cortese said. The eight to be inducted on Monday include parishioners from St. Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, St. Anthony, St. Mary Magdalene and Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Getting brass nameplates this Sunday are Edward L. O’Connor, U.S. Army; Jerome T. Severin, U.S. Army; Thomas W. Glynn, U.S. Marine Corps; Donald Berke, U.S. Marine Corps; Samuel P. Howard Jr., U.S. Army.

Raymond Fox, U.S. Air Force; Melvin Merritt, U.S. Army; and U.J. McClusky, U.S. Air Force, will each have stars next to their names.

Another, shorter ceremony will be held at the wall on Veteran’s Day.