My alma mater, Salesianum School in Wilmington, has a proud heritage of producing young men who went on to serve their country, state and local communities in the armed services and public safety. My class alone produced three Naval Academy graduates (one of whom went on to become a Navy SEAL), and dozens more who served in other branches of the service, some of whom are still on active duty or in the reserves.
Other classmates, including Joseph Szczerba, went on to successful careers in law enforcement.
Tragically, just over a year ago, Joe was killed in the line of duty, felled by a criminal’s crazed and murderous response to Joe’s attempts to subdue him.
I didn’t know Joe very well. In a graduating class of some 270, it was hard to be close friends with every classmate, but there wasn’t anyone in the school who didn’t think the most of Joe – he was an extraordinarily kind and talented person. He was big and strong, an all-state football player who excelled on both sides of the line, but he also carried about him a special aura of decency and even gentleness.
As a New Castle County police officer, Joe received many awards and the respect and admiration of his peers.
The kind of nobility and courage he displayed on that September night last year when he tracked down a dangerous suspect on foot is hard for most of us to fathom. Even more difficult to appreciate is the reality that that kind of heroism happens every day across the country and the world by others like Joe who are motivated by duty to serve and protect their fellow citizens.
This Saturday morning at 8:30 am, Salesianum School is holding a 5K race in Joe’s honor. Proceeds from the event will go to a scholarship in Joe’s name that will help fund the Salesianum education of the sons of law enforcement officers. Everyone in the community is invited to participate.
Please join us and help pay tribute to a special individual who gave so much for so many.