CRANBERRY TWP — Clad in a red T-shirt and carrying a bag of signs and pamphlets, Army veteran William Piocquidio is on his last mission to support the troops.
The 79-year-old has spent the year working as a one-man operation to build support for veterans and let people know about Red Fridays, a national movement encouraging folks to wear red at the end of the workweek in honor of those serving in the military.
Piocquidio said he represents the movement in Beaver and western Butler counties.
“I'm trying to create awareness here in Cranberry and local areas about the U.S. troop support movement,” he said. “This is a grass-roots movement that has been started probably 10 years ago by families of the embedded troops all over the country.”
Piocquidio has purchased billboard space in Beaver County, handed out signs and T-shirts throughout the area and met with public officials and private residents, all at his own expense, he said.
“My wife has been very patient,” Piocquidio said. “If I see a veteran in Walmart or, you name the place, I run them down and make sure to talk to them.”
In June, U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-12th, thanked those spreading the word about Red Fridays on the U.S. House floor, and explained to others how the “Red” in the name is more than a color.
“It's an acronym for 'Remember Everyone Deployed,'” he said. “It is a message to remember our service members who are away from their families, risking their lives on the front lines to defend our freedoms and values.”
But even with this support, Piocquidio says it takes a long time to spread the word going door to door.
“It started out with just some simple T-shirts. That was their way of getting the message out to the general public,” he said. “Of course, on a one-to-one basis that's very tough and a very slow process. I know because I've been doing this over a year.”
While he lives in Beaver County, Piocquidio said he's in Cranberry several times a week, spreading the word about the movement and visiting his children who live there.
“It's a worthwhile thing,” Piocquidio said. “It's about our troops.”
Because of his age, he said this is likely the last way he will serve a cause he feels so passionately about.
“This is my mission,” Piocquidio said. “This is my last mission.”
To contact Piocquidio, call 724-630-5660.