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Honoring a Falcon fallen soldier

The significance of Veterans Day hit close to home this year with a ceremony Nov. 11 to honor a local fallen soldier. About 250 Falcon residents attended the dedication of a park in memory of U.S. Army SPC Dane R. Balcon.Jan Pizzi, a Woodmen Hills resident, organized the event. Pizzi moved to Falcon from a small town near Boston. The town, founded in the 1600s, was home to many memorials, she said. Pizzi said she noticed there were no memorials for veterans, firefighters or police officers in Falcon. When Dane Balcon died in Iraq, Pizzi rallied the community for a memorial honoring him.The Woodmen Hills Metropolitan Board approved the plans, and several local businesses and organizations donated items for the park and helped organize the event.”My biggest emotional incentive was from Carla (Dane’s mother), who kept offering her assistance in any way,” Pizzi said. “I kept saying no. I felt she gave enough.”Balcon’s mother, U.S. Air Force Capt. Carla Sizer, and grandfather, retired Army Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Thomas, spoke at the dedication. The SPC Dane R. Balcon Memorial Park dedication was held not only on Veterans Day, but also on Balcon’s grandfather’s birthday.”His deepest aspiration was to serve his country,” Sizer said of her son, who was killed in action Sept. 5 in Balad, Iraq. She said Balcon had wanted to join the U.S. Army since he was 3 years old.”Veterans Day is where we salute all of our war veterans for their unselfish service to this nation,” Sizer said. “It is a day of assessing the contributions of the living, as well as recalling the deeds of the dead.”Having the ceremony on Veterans Day seemed fitting to Pizzi. “It shows appreciation for soldiers, for firefighters, for police,” she said.The park was chosen because of its proximity to Balcon’s home in Woodmen Hills. The memorial consists of a stone with an engraved plaque. Pizzi said individuals could purchase memorial bricks placed at the site for $30.Inscribed on the sign, which designates the park as “SPC Dane R. Balcon Memorial Park,” is a quote that Balcon had written inside his Texas Longhorn baseball cap: “Death before dishonor. It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees. I’m not afraid to die for my country.”Hovering over the site is the U.S. flag presented to Balcon’s parents at his funeral.Military personnel also presided over the ceremony and spoke of Veterans Day and the sacrifice American soldiers, past and present, have made for the United States.A bagpiper played “Amazing Grace,” and at the close of the ceremony family and friends released red, white and blue balloons.Sizer reminded the crowd that a price is paid for freedom, and it should not be taken for granted. “Freedom isn’t free,” she said.

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