Burns dedicates Charles J. Vizzini Memorial Bridge

EBENSBURG, Oct. 13 – State Rep. Frank Burns today dedicated the Charles J. Vizzini Memorial Bridge, saying that today’s dedication is just one small effort to acknowledge a man who dedicated his life to others.

Burns spearheaded efforts last legislative session to name the bridge in Cambria Township that carries U.S. Route 22 over New Germany Road after Vizzini, a decorated World War II veteran and longtime advocate for other veterans and his fellow man.

“Charles J. Vizzini was a passionate advocate for his fellow veterans and his community,” Burns said. “It’s right and proper that we dedicate this bridge today – just one small way we can honor this man for his service to his county and his community.”

Born in 1924 in Colver, Vizzini served in the U.S. Army infantry during World War II and was wounded twice – in the arm and in the chest, receiving two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star for his service. While fighting in France, he was shot by a German automatic pistol, and an Army doctor said that Vizzini survived the shooting because the bullets had penetrated the two religious books he carried – one each in his left and right breast pockets. Vizzini said he considered it a miracle that he survived and it was why he dedicated his efforts to helping veterans.

When Vizzini returned to Cambria County, he was very active in honoring veterans, from organizing the annual Veterans Day memorial services, to services on the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and in honor of Marine Sgt. Michael Strank, who helped to raise the flag on Iwo Jima.

But his dedication didn’t stop with veterans. He was often a voice for those who didn’t have one, organizing memorial programs for the 63 miners who died in the 1940 Sonman Mine explosion in Portage and the 112 who lost their lives in the 1902 Rolling Mine Mill explosion in Johnstown. He also was well-known for his work with Ebensburg’s annual Christmas celebrations, and he organized the Northern Cambria County Immigrants Day in Nanty Glo. Vizzini also rallied to keep the Ebensburg Center from closing, organized efforts to clean up Sandyvale Cemetery and pushed the state Transportation Department to rename the Prospect viaduct.

Vizzini graduated from business college and was a coal miner and steelworker, and he worked in the state Auditor General’s Office for more than 25 years. He died in 2009.

“Mr. Vizzini began his life of service when he went to war to fight for his country. For the rest of his 85 years, he lived as he believed, and he believed rightly that veterans deserve our thanks and respect and that everyone deserves a voice in their community,” Burns said.

The bill naming the bridge – which became Act 140 of 2022 – received unanimous approval in both chambers and was signed into law on Nov. 3.

The dedication ceremony was held at the Ebensburg VFW Post 4963 where Vizzini served as commander. PennDOT will install appropriate signs displaying the name of the bridge.

Photos from the ceremony may be viewed here, and video, here.