The nation’s wounded warriors now have premiere parking at the East End Center.
Six prime parking spaces in the complex now are reserved for those wounded while serving in the U.S. military. The spaces are marked with signs that depict a Purple Heart, the medal given to those killed or wounded in action.
Navy veteran Luke Colleran likes the gesture.
“If you need it, it’s a lot easier,” Colleran, 72, said while eating lunch with his wife at Serpico Pizza. “I think it’s a great idea. More places should be doing it.”
Colleran, who served during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, said such tributes weren’t common for his generation.
“When I got out of the service, they didn’t even want you to wear your uniform back home because they were throwing rocks at you,” the Wilkes-Barre man said.
Serpico Pizza makes its support of the U.S. military clear with a big U.S. flag on the wall along with a framed photo of the owner’s daughter in her U.S. Navy uniform.
Dan Serpico, the owner’s son, said he likes the idea of preferred parking for wounded veterans.
“Anything to support the veterans, especially wounded veterans. It’s the way is should be,” Serpico said. “I think it’s a great idea. I think more places should do it, honestly.”
The signs, which have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, are part of a national effort by the Wounded Warriors Family Support organization, said program Director Wendy Tatro.
The organization, which is not affiliated with the well known Wounded Warriors Project, said about 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded.
“It’s an honorary thing that says you’re not out of sight, not out of mind,” Tatro said.
About 2,000 of the signs have been distributed around the nation, she said.
Drag racing champion Joe Amato, who purchased the East End Center in March 2014, thinks the complex is the first in the area to install such signs.
“Hopefully, we’ll start the momentum for others to do the same thing,” Amato said. “These people go out there and put their lives on the line for us. It’s the least we could do when they come back. It’s no different than handicapped parking.”
While the parking spots are reserved for wounded veterans, Amato acknowledges it’s not possible to enforce the restriction and he’ll have to rely on the honor system. He doubts many people will abuse the privilege.
“People aren’t going to dishonor their country and park where they shouldn’t,” Amato said.