Lt. James Peluso will experience Philadelphia's rich military history for the first time and up close and personal Wednesday morning.
This is 27-year-old Peluso's first year with the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) at the University of Pennsylvania, which trains officers for the Navy and Marine Corps.
While he is new to the program, he said he recognizes the gravity of the yearly tradition, which commemorates the Navy’s birthday with a six-mile run through the city.
"We're paying homage to the people who came before us," Peluso said. "And I am extremely honored to be part of it."
About 85 runners from UPenn, Drexel University and Temple University who serve in the NROTC group, will honor the Navy's 238th birthday with three stops at historical markers with Navy ties.
The runners will stop at Major Samuel Nicholas' burial site, the Commodore John Barry Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier.
Wreaths will be presented at each location, and officers will speak briefly of the memorial's significance in Naval history. Biographies of Nicholas and Barry will be read, and at the tomb, a Catholic priest will lead the group in prayer.
Peluso, a Jacksonville, Fla., man, said he was bewildered by the city's place in military history.
"I didn't realize the commandant of the Marine Corps. was born in Philadelphia," he said.
"To be in Philadelphia, to be in a city that's so enriched with our national history," he added, "I realize serving in the military has got to be one of the greatest honors I could ever hope to have."
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