Army Major Phil Cordaro of Virginia is returning to his roots this Memorial Day Weekend.


A 1996 Honesdale High School graduate, the 11-year active military member is this year’s keynote speaker at Honesdale’s Memorial Day Ceremony being held in Central Park.


Army Major Phil Cordaro of Virginia is returning to his roots this Memorial Day Weekend.

A 1996 Honesdale High School graduate, the 11-year active military member is this year’s keynote speaker at Honesdale’s Memorial Day Ceremony being held in Central Park.

He’s a dedicated soldier who loves his family, friends and country; a man far too familiar with the price of freedom. He’s lost several friends to war — names forever engraved on his heart.

“They are all heroes and I remember them everyday,” he said.

Q. If I asked you the true meaning of Memorial Day, what would you tell me?
A. “Memorial Day is a time to stop and reflect on the sacrifices of the men and women who've died in the defense of their fellow citizens and the principles that make this nation great. This is how we keep alive the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and ensure we never forget the high price of freedom.”

Q. What will you share with the crowd on Memorial Day?
A. “I wish to relay the significance of young men and women across the country volunteering to raise their right hand and say "Send me" during a time when our nation is at war in foreign lands. That this generation, like past generations, is serving in combat zones and keeping watch in faraway lands. Their actions guarantee our freedom and give others the chance to enjoy freedom.”

Q. What's so important for them to know and why?
A. “Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, then President Bush encouraged all Americans to go to the mall and carry on their lives without fear. Fortunately, our country was able to do just that and although the fighting overseas continues almost ten years after that date, we do not have to endure any of the hardships normally associated with a nation at war. As a result of the sacrifices our military makes on a daily basis, most Americans are far removed from the realities of war. This is precisely why we serve and what we fight for. We do our best everyday to ensure no American will ever have to live in fear. Memorial Day is set aside for our nation to thank all of those in uniform and remember the fallen.”

Q. Do you hope both young and old attend and why?
A. “I hope everyone, regardless of age comes out to pay their respects to the nation's heroes. I believe most people do not realize how much our small town consistently contributes to the safety and protection of the United States. Honesdale has a great tradition of military service that continues today.”

Q. I understand you earned the rank of Major on Feb. 1st (congrats). What is your job title and where are you stationed?
A. “I am an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officer. I commanded the 38th EOD Company from April 2008 to February 2011 at Fort Stewart, Ga. I am currently a student attending the Command and General Staff College's Intermediate Level Education (ILE) at Fort Belvoir, VA and will conduct a one year fellowship with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) starting in September.”

Q. What has been the most rewarding aspect of your military career?
A. “The most rewarding aspect of my military career is having the honor of being entrusted with training and leading our nation's sons and daughters. It is why I still wear the uniform and what drives me to be the best that I can be.”

Q. How many tours have you completed overseas?
A. “I completed three overseas tours. I deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division to Albania and then Kosovo for a couple months in 1999 during Operation Allied Force. I then deployed to Baghdad, Iraq from 2004 to 2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I returned from my last 12 month deployment to Mosul, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn in November 2010.”

Q. How have those tours changed you as a person?
A. “Each deployment affected me in different ways, but the one common theme has always been the immense appreciation I developed for the culture and people we were working with. It is always intriguing to see how different societies live around the world. Those experiences shaped who I am and how I think today.”

Q. How much have you and your family sacrificed for your dedication?
A. “Any time away we have to spend apart is hard, but we do what we can to stay in touch and communicate when I am overseas. The true heroes of our military are the families that carry on when we are deployed. Their strength in the face of hardship and adversity is truly awe-inspiring.”

Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you chart the same course for your life?
A. “I would not change a thing. The decisions I made, things I experienced, and people I met along the way made me the person I am today. I have an amazing wife, an incredible son, and truly enjoy serving my country as an officer in the United States Army.”

Q. What's your life's motto and why?
A. " ‘Everything in life is a graded event.’ Be responsible, do the very best you can, and take pride in your actions regardless of who sees you or where you are and you will never have anything to worry about.”
Major Cordaro currently resides in Falls Church, Va. with his wife Sarah and son, Luca.