Guarding Their Legacy

The South Philadelphia Business Association’s membership meeting will commend a local World War II hero and other veterans.

Having logged more than 120 years as a community presence, the South Philadelphia Business Association (SPBA) appreciates longevity and commitment. This Tuesday, January 14 at 6:30 p.m., the organization will acknowledge local veterans for their commitment at Popi’s Restaurant, 3120 S. 20th St. As part of  SPBA’s membership meeting they’ll remember South Philly native and World War II hero William Guarnere and other veterans.

“Networking is a huge point of pride for us, so when you combine that opportunity with a chance to celebrate the protectors of our freedom, we think the night is going to be an amazing experience,” said Russell Shoemaker, the association’s director of membership. “Plus, when you add the speakers, who are Bill’s family, and the charitable part of the meeting, there’s no better way to build momentum for the year.” The $45 gathering will feature a cocktail party and a cash bar.

Shoemaker, a Marconi resident, noted that 123 businesses receive representation through SPBA, which is always looking to grow its ranks. Tuesday will involve discussions on how to do that and how to assist present members. But the bulk of the evening will honor Guarnere and other individuals lauded for their sacrifices.

Guarnere’s heroics as part of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division helped to inspire the “Band of Brothers” book and miniseries. His granddaughter Debi Rafferty and son Gino Guarnere will speak about the Silver Star Medal winner who passed away six years ago at age 90. In November, Guarnere was honored with a statue at the Herron Playground, South 2nd and Reed streets.

Part of the proceeds from a raffle of a book about Guarnere and artwork will go toward the Wild Bill Guarnere Memorial Fund. The remainder of funds raised will benefit the SPBA’s Scholarship Fund.

“We definitely want to do more to honor his legacy and everyone else’s,” said Shoemaker, who noted that businesses will be receiving window stickers to make evident their admiration for veterans. “That’s something that we’ll explore as 2020 unfolds.”

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