New stadium’s opening symbolic for DeConto family

George Brennan Cape Cod Times

SANDWICH, MA — Members of the DeConto family plan to attend tonight’s football game to cheer on the Blue Knights at the stadium named for U.S. Navy Capt. Gerald F. “Jerry” DeConto, but they won’t be participating in the pregame ceremony, a family member said.

Capt. Gerald F. DeConto

Capt. Gerald F. DeConto

DeConto was killed the morning of September 11, 2001, when a hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon — the third terrorist attack on the United States that morning.

“We’re excited about the stadium, and it’s symbolic that the first football game is at home under the lights on 9/11,” David DeConto, Jerry’s brother, said Thursday. “But for us 9/11 is a lay-low, contemplative day that we hold in high reverence.”

David DeConto has been the leading force behind building the stadium at Sandwich High School to pay tribute to his brother and all military veterans.

The high school football team’s boosters club plans to hand out 500 American flags before the game. The DeContos were asked to participate, but respectfully declined, David DeConto said.

“I will be at the game, quietly supporting the team,” he said. “I’ll have a little smile on my face knowing what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

The DeConto family has never sought the spotlight on September 11 anniversaries, choosing instead to participate in the private ceremony at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, as Jerry was one of eight graduates of the college to die in the Pentagon attack.

The ceremony typically includes remarks from the college president, a presentation by a survivor of the Pentagon attack, and a viewing of a damaged stone from the Defense Department building that bears the names of those killed.

David DeConto plans to attend with his mother, Pat, and his siblings Raymond DeConto, Dale Choate, Marie DeConto-Thomas and Choate’s husband, Tom.

“It’s very classy,” David DeConto said, “the type of ceremony you’d expect from a branch of the service.”

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