Buon Giorno and thank you for coming.
An outsider to this event might very well be confused as to who exactly is being remembered here today. Is it LTC Forlini, John Forlini, Johnny, Uncle John, Grandpa John, Grandpa Johnny, Zio Giovanni, or Dad? Of course, it depends on who you are, but my father was all of these people and more.
For those of you who ran into only one of these personalities, you missed out on quite a bit. My father was born in Providence, Rhode Island in February 1921 where he went to Central High School. He worked as a jeweler and he worked at the infamous family chicken shop. He was also a worker on a dam-building project out west as a participant in the Civilian Conservation Corps.
My father joined the service in 1942 where he was an administrative and training officer for the US Army. He also served with the Military Police. After leaving the service in 1946, he rejoined in 1948. Between 1948 and 1955 he was an intelligence officer engaged in covert activities in Germany and Korea. He was awarded the Bronze Star for "Meritorious Achievement in Ground Operations Against the Enemy" for his Korean service between June 1953-Feb 1954. He ended his active military career as an intelligence instructor. My father continued in the US Army reserves where he eventually reached and retired with the rank of LTC.
As a civilian for the US Army, my father had several assignments which kept him and his family moving to places like Panama, Chicago, Newport News and finally Northern Virginia. In 1962, Dad entered the newly emerging field of Data Processing. His last job was as the Chief of the Configuration Management Branch of the US Army's Computer Systems Command at Fort Belvoir.
After retiring, my father spent his time rediscovering his Italian roots by making several trips to visit the family farm in Italy. In doing so, he introduced his stateside family to its cousins abroad. Thanks to his efforts, The Forlini family now stretches across the world.
My father loved to travel and in 1990, he and I made a trip to Berlin where he helped chisel away at the Berlin Wall. For years it had divided the city where he once lived and worked.
My father also realized one of his dreams by driving across the country and back. Not once, but twice - once with my mother in tow. Of course, every trip usually included a "swing by" one of Dad's favorite casinos.
1990 also brought the birth of Dad's first grandson. From then on, he spent lots of time pushing strollers and going for walks in the park.
Several years ago, shortly before the internet boom, Dad discovered the online world. A place where he could meet and speak with people from all over without ever leaving home. Many people Dad met online became friends and he enjoyed spending his mornings or evenings chatting away with them.
Of course, history is nice, but most of us knew my father for other things.
My father was an extraordinary friend who would do just about anything for you. He would literally drive a hundred miles out of his way to visit you or do you a favor while travelling abroad. Of course, Dad always just considered it "swinging by." He spent a lot of his free time "swinging by" friends' children's soccer games, graduations, and weddings. Friends were very important to my father whether they were people he met on some of his many travels, former coworkers, or people he'd only chatted with online.
My father was also a very devoted family man. His family was likely the most important thing in his life and whether you were one of his own children, his beloved wife, a brother or sister, uncle or aunt, niece or nephew, inlaw or pending inlaw, grandchild or pending grandchild, you were part of his family. In fact, if you were the wife of a cousin of his father's who lived in Italy, you were part of his family.
My father was also a pretty decent cook. There aren't many people in this room today who haven't been a guest at at least one of Dad's fantastic lasagna feasts. If you were special, you got to help cook the meal. And if you were truly special, you have one of his famous cook books. After helping Dad create several of these meals and spending the next two days recovering, I can vouch that his meals were genuine labors of love.
When you remember my Dad, remember some of the things he stood for. Be loving and supportive to your family and teach them togetherness with regular family gatherings. Remember to tell your family you love them and teach them what it is to be a good spouse or parent. Keep in touch with your friends no matter where they move and make new friends wherever you go whether at the local bank or in the online Italian chat room. Get in touch with your family's roots and keep them close as well as share them with your children so they too can know their roots.
One of my cousins wrote in a sympathy card this past week that "a man is not defined by what comes to him, but what comes from him." John Forlini certainly embraced this ideal. His legacy of generosity of spirit will be with us always.
Arrivederci Giovanni. Ti amiamo.