Letter: A Tree To Honor A Veteran


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To the Editor:

Being a resident of Verona for the last 20 years, I can’t say it surprises me when the community comes together for others. In fact, “coming together” in Verona is the norm, and it brings much joy to witness.

In July 2022, our dear neighbor Mike (Michael A. Coppola) passed away at the age of 97 years old. Mike was a veteran who loved and served his country. A Verona resident for 68 years who cherished his beautiful street of Brookside Terrace, he was proud to be a husband and dad who could raise his family in such a wonderful town. He enjoyed showing off his dance moves from his front doorstep at our annual Verona Rocks Caroling event and would also get excited for Halloween each year, seeing all of the trick-or-treaters. He treasured celebrating life at our summertime block parties, where once again he took the opportunity to show off some more of his dance moves. Simply, Mike was a man who just loved being around friends and sharing stories from his past.

WWII Veteran Michael Coppola Jr.Some of the memories he would speak about was his time spent serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War as a water tender second class. He was also a life-long member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was a proud man and we respected what he did for our country. After Mike passed away, our neighborhood thought about how we could continue to honor Mike’s life and keep his spirit alive in Verona. The community youth group Verona Rocks thought it would be a great idea to have a tree planted in honor of Mike. The kids knew they would need help to accomplish this, but as always, our loyal community came through.

With the help of the Verona Environmental Commission (VEC), which chose the tree and designated its special spot in the garden at the Verona Community Center, Verona Rocks raised enough money to purchase a beautiful Eastern Redbud! In addition, VEC joined forces with Hillcrest Farms, which supplied the tree and donated planting services. A big shout out to Pat Filoso. Lastly, Deputy Mayor Jack McEvoy also helped to install the proper deer fencing to ensure the tree’s survival.

With Veteran’s Day around the corner, it felt like a perfect time to remember Mike and others who have protected our country.

We look forward in watching this tree grow year after year in Verona, and to enjoying the beautiful, purple blooms that will bring smiles too many, just like Mike did.

Dina Lilley

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  1. I did not know Mike personally but after reading your beautiful article, I wish I did know him. What a wonderful way to honor such a loving and happy soul who lived in our town and who bravely served our country. Was heartwarming to learn how people of our community pulled together to plant a tree in Mike’s honor. 🇺🇸


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