PITTSFIELD -- Joseph Dalo and Fran Giardina shared war stories outside City Hall on Saturday after a ceremony that marked the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
At 80 and 82, respectively, the two know each other well. More than 60 years ago, they attended Pittsfield High School together. Soon, they received the same letter from the U.S. government and went through basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. -- again, together.
Also with them was a group of "Berkshire County guys." Some they'd grown up playing sports against. Scores of them would never return home from their next destination -- Korea.
"We're lucky to be here," said Dalo, recalling a photograph taken of he and other Berkshire County recruits before they shipped out to the country, where neither of the teenagers pictured to his left and right would survive.
Another local Korean War veteran, Arnold M. Perras, led Saturday's ceremony.
Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi was one of Saturday's speakers.
Before roughly 50 residents, Honor Guards, Color Guards and local veterans, Bianchi corrected a misnomer, in his view.
He asked those who'd served in the conflict to raise their hands, saying:
"I cringe every time I hear those words: The ‘Forgotten War,' " he said. "There's nothing about it that was forgotten.
A total 36,500 Americans killed in action, hundreds of thousands of North and South Koreans lost and thousands more who represented 40 different countries in the United Nations forces all should be remembered, Bianchi said.
He said the war's battles, too, will live on.
"[The Battle of Chosin Reservoir] will go down in history as one of the most brutal combat situations, not just in American history, but in the history of armed combat," Bianchi said.
Sarah Hathaway, the city's mayor when the Korean War Memorial outside City Hall was dedicated on Nov. 11, 2002, also spoke.
She said her late father served in Korea, and lived long enough to get to know the first of his two grandchildren, who were adopted from China.
"I think it speaks to the hope that we have for our current generation and our future, that we can see that kind of change in the world," Hathaway said.
Perras, following a 21-gun salute, closed the ceremony by speaking for all the veterans there, saying they appreciated "each and every person" who came.
Giardina and Dalo said they attended just a few past Korean War ceremonies in the city.
"This stirs up a lot of memories," Giardina said.
On May 23, 1953, Giardina's war ended, after his elbow was struck by shrapnel from a mortar shell.
"I remember my family wrote me to say you were OK," Dalo told him Saturday. "That you were in the hospital at Yokohama."
The ceremony included a surprise in store for Dalo. He'd introduced himself to a fellow Korean War veteran named Irwin Braun, a New Yorker who summers in the Berkshires.
"The thing was, we'd been in the same regiment, same division," Dalo said. "The 7th Division, 32nd Infantry Regiment."