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The Vernola’s: Norwalk’s New ‘First Lady’ Salutes Her Husband

 

Three of the grandchildren of Joan and Luigi Vernola display a new patriotic quilt made in honor of the new Mayor of Norwalk at Tuesday’s Mayoral Transition. Randy Economy Photo

Three of the grandchildren of Joan and Luigi Vernola display a new patriotic quilt made in honor of the new Mayor of Norwalk at Tuesday’s Mayoral Transition. Randy Economy Photo

By Brian Hews

During last Tuesday’s emotional Mayoral Transition at Norwalk City Hall, dozens of people took to the podium to congratulate reelected councilmembers Mike Mendez and Cheri Kelley.

But the nights most emotional, and uplifting tribute came from Joan Vernola, the wife of newly appointed Mayor Luigi Vernola.

With her grandchildren at her side, Mrs. Vernola was the last in a long line of speakers to take to the crystal clear podium to officially recognize and honor her husband on being named the city’s top elected official.

“Luigi’s parents came here from Italy to give their family a chance of a better life. They wanted them all to receive an education and to have a chance to be what they want to be.  I’m sure they are looking down with pride on their son on this auspicious evening,” Mrs. Vernola said.

“Luigi is a true American.  When he says the Pledge he stands straight and always ends it with Amen, thanking this great country for all it gives to its citizens,” she said.

“When Luigi became Mayor of Norwalk during his last term on the city council in the 1980’s, Councilman Mike Mendez’s daughter sang “Proud to Be an American,” and we can’t think of a better song describing how he feels and what he has instilled in his family,” an emotional Mrs. Vernola continued.

“Part of the song states ‘If tomorrow all things were gone I’d worked for all my life, and if I had to start again, with just my children and my wife, I’d thank my lucky stars, to be living here today, cause the flag stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.  And, I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men (and women) who died, who gave this right to me. And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt about it, I love this land, God Bless the USA,” Joan said as she recited part of the iconic Lee Greenwood anthem that has become part of the patchwork of modern American history.

The new First Lady of Norwalk then had her grandchildren unfold a handmade quilt that she stitched for her husband.  “This quilt displays the America that we all love…the center is the fireworks that we shoot off every 4th of July representing our beginnings, and the flags around the border of course are the flags that we displayed all over this great country, and I’d like to draw your attention to the back which is filled with the stars that cover our night skies and is reflected on our flag as representing the 50 states, but even more the star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial,” she said.

Mayor Vernola then accepted the quilt and reached out and gave his wife and grandchildren a long, tight hug.

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