|Birth: ||Jun. 9, 1924|
|Death: ||Apr. 5, 2010|
Born Liborio Berardinelli
Father Santo Berardinelli
Mother Angeline (Laricca) Berardinelli
Supplied by ChrisC (findagrave)
Name: Liber Mathew Berardinelli
Birth Year: 1924
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Ohio
State of Residence: Ohio
County or City: Cuyahoga
Enlistment Date: 25 Mar 1943
Enlistment State: Ohio
Enlistment City: Camp Perry Lacarne
Branch: No branch assignment
Branch Code: No branch assignment
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: 3 years of high school
Civil Occupation: Unskilled occupations in trades and services, n.e.c.
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
The Plain DealerStaff Sgt. Larry Jenkins, left, and Staff Sgt. Joshua Ranostay, members of the Ohio Army National Guard Honor Guard Team, fold the American flag that covered the casket of World War II veteran Liber Berardinelli, of Euclid, whose sole mourner at services Friday at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery was Michael Brown, seated, who knew the old veteran as a neighbor when Brown was growing up in Euclid.
RITTMAN, Ohio -- Army Pfc. Liber Berardinelli wasn't alone when he fought across France and Germany during World War II.
He had buddies to watch his back.
And the 85-year-old former infantryman from Euclid wasn't alone Friday, when he was laid to rest at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.
Colonel Ed Koller, a member of the 555th Honors Detachement, salutes during a funeral ceremony Friday for Liber Berardinelli at the Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio.He may have died indigent, and there may not have been any family or friends to say goodbye at the funeral, but he had buddies there, too.
The first link in a chain of caring started with Michael Brown, assistant law director for the city of Euclid, whose duties include arranging for the burial or cremation of indigent residents.
He handles about a dozen such cases every year. But the one involving the April 5 death of Berardinelli brought back a rush of old memories.
Berardinelli had been his neighbor on Dille Road when Brown was growing up. Brown had cut the guy's grass. Berardinelli's wife, Bessie, made extra spaghetti sauce for the Brown kids. The Berardinellis attended all the graduations and first communions of the Browns. And the Browns went over to Berardinelli's house every Christmas Eve.
"He was a really nice guy. Very friendly," Brown recalled. "Just a down-to-earth guy."
Sometimes the vet, who worked as a school crossing guard, would talk about the war. About landing on the D-Day beaches of Normandy where -- as Brown said Berardinelli once put it -- "your life expectancy was about 15 seconds."
When Brown received notice of Berardinelli's death and indigent status, he was unable to find any family members. So he decided to make sure the old soldier got a proper military burial.
"He was a good guy and he served our country, and he deserved to be treated like that," he said.
Berardinelli actually had two brothers, Anthony, 82, of Cleveland Heights, and Joseph, 84, of Cleveland. But Anthony Berardinelli said Friday that he and Anthony had been estranged from Liber, at his insistence, since their high school days in Collinwood.
soldier burial 2.jpgView full sizeLisa DeJong / PDLiber Berardinelli's funeral ceremony has a full military service Friday at the Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, OhioHe was not aware that his older brother had died.
After confirming Berardinelli's military history through the county Veterans Service Commission, Brown contacted the Corrigan Craciun Funeral Home to arrange for a casket, hearse and transportation.
Jim Craciun, a manager of the funeral home, said the Veterans Service Commission provides $995 toward the burial expenses of indigent veterans. The sum doesn't cover the actual costs, he said, but "if you're not doing this, you're not doing what you should be doing in the community.
"Everybody's helping out," he added. "Us, this attorney (Brown), the people of Cuyahoga County, the cemetery. This guy's going to get a beautiful service."
Come Friday, as the one-car funeral procession traveled from Cleveland to the national cemetery, preparations were underway to provide Berardinelli with full military honors.
Every veteran and spouse gets a burial plot, vault, headstone and perpetual care at the cemetery, where 65 percent of the graves are those of World War II veterans.
Each vet also gets ceremonial honors including a three-volley rifle salute, the playing of "Taps" and the formal folding and presentation of an American flag by active-duty military members.
"It doesn't matter whether you have money or not. Everybody gets this, everybody deserves this," said Lorri Tagliaferro, cemetery program assistant. "That's the least we can do for them.
"Nobody goes out alone," she added. Sometimes when mourners are totally absent, cemetery volunteers will step in.
When the hearse bearing Berardinelli's casket pulled up to the cemetery's open air chapel, members of the 555th Honors Detachment of Wooster braced to attention. For the ceremonial flag, rifle and bugle salutes, 41 volunteer honor teams of Northeast Ohio veterans rotate the cemetery duty.
As the hearse arrived with no motorcycle escort, no procession, no grieving relatives and no pallbearers, Detachment member Russ Davidson, 60, a Vietnam-era veteran, noted, "It happens, and it's unfortunate.
"But he's entitled to the same ceremony as anybody else," he added. "That's who we're doing this for -- the veteran. As for us, it's just our way of giving back."
A cemetery worker wheeled Berardinelli's casket into the chapel, where the air hung heavy and suitably somber.
Michael Brown took a front seat, a lone mourner in a chapel of empty benches and whispered breezes.
A member of the honor team read a poem, "Reflection on a Friend."
. . . We do not know if he was enlisted or called. We know that when his country called, he answered . . .
Seven rifles drilled into the blue skies overhead. "Taps" drifted from an invisible bugler via the chapel sound system.
Two white-gloved members of the Ohio Army National Guard's Honor Team removed the flag covering the casket and crisply tucked it into a triangle. Staff Sgt. Larry Jenkins handed the folded flag to Brown, in lieu of a loved one, with the formal "on behalf of a grateful nation" salutation.
As usual. As always. Everything to the military letter in 13 minutes flat. The only thing missing was people.
Yet for Brown, a guy who had seen this through solely on the weight of some distant childhood memories, it was an unexpectedly moving tribute.
Red-faced, clutching the flag to his chest, he said, "I feel . . . I don't know . . . more emotional than I thought I would.
"But I feel good," he added. "He was paid his respects for serving his country, and I feel good. I wanted to be here, so I'd know he was taken care of."
Brown walked back to the hearse for the long ride home, a buddy that Liber Berardinelli never knew he had.
But as it turned out, one of many.
By Brian Albrecht
Plain Dealer Cleveland, Ohio
Rest in peace your duty is over.
Santo Berardinelli (1898 - 1973)
Angeline M Berardinelli (1904 - 1996)
Bessie N. Massi Berardinelli (1922 - 2003)*
Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery
Plot: Section 11 Site 2632
Created by: RThomas3780
Record added: Apr 25, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 51589502