By ZEINAB NAJM
While the USS Detroit sat docked at the wharf near the Renaissance Center awaiting its Oct. 22 commissioning ceremony, veterans feasted on pizza and cannoli provided by Dearborn’s Roman Village Cucina Italiana a few blocks away.
More than 400 armed forces veterans packed Atwater Brewery, 237 Jos Campau, for a celebration Oct. 18 commemorating them and the arrival of the new naval warship.
The six-hour event and others throughout Detroit kicked off Veterans Day in the D.
Roman Village Restaurant Group Executive Director Patrick Rugiero brought boxes of pizza and his mother Rita Rugiero’s homemade cannoli for the hundreds of veterans.
Patrick Rugiero also serves as the USS Detroit (LCS 7) Commissioning Committee Finance co-chairman where he helped with fundraising and securing sponsors for the activities.
“It was a team effort putting this event and other events together because the Navy cannot fundraise for itself,” he said. “The response was great and I’m glad to be a part of the commissioning week.”
Food and drinks were provided by Roman Village along with other local businesses and restaurants.
During the celebration at the brewery, veterans from all armed forces gathered giving them a chance to connect with one another.
“I’m very impressed by the hospitality,” Army veteran Gerald Mantela said. “It always great to gather with fellow veterans.”
Army veteran Al Lux praised Detroit and their commitment to horning veterans.
“The city has always had great events for veterans, and this week is no different,” he said. “Right now is a perfect time to come together with the country being split.”
Frank Quinlan, a 95-year-old Navy veteran, told stories to others in attendance.
“It really takes me back a number of years, being around other veterans,” he said. “A lot has changed, but we remain a proud group.”
The USS Detroit (LCS 7) traveled from from Marinette, Wis., before arriving at the GM Riverwalk behind the Renaissance Center Oct. 14.
Tours of the ship were offered for veterans and military from Oct. 15 to 18 and Oct. 20 and 21 along with public tours on Oct. 19.
Following commissioning ceremonies, the ship was scheduled to visit Windsor, across the Detroit River. The trip across the border marked the first time a U.S. warship visited a foreign nation as its inaugural international port of call.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)