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An American Family
by Bob D'Amico
Veterans Day 2003

is name Joseph, he is an 80-year-old grandfather now. Joe won't be going to the Veterans Day sales at the mall today.

His father was born in 1899 and immigrated in 1911 at the age of 12. Growing up in Brooklyn he had a difficult time learning English because he only went to school for 18 months before leaving to become a hod carrier. In 1917 he was drafted into the US Army and was sent to France where he was wounded in the left leg. After the war he came home, moved to Queens and started working for two brothers who were stonemasons. He met and married Philomena who was three years his junior. Their first child died in childbirth. Their second, a daughter, died from influenza in 1919, she was only three months old. The third was born in 1921, a boy, they named him Anthony after his grandfather. Joe was second, born in 1923. His parents had three more children who all survived and prospered in America.

Both boys went to school full time and graduated from high school. Anthony was going to become a mason like his father but when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 he volunteered for the Army. Joe also volunteered in 1942 barely a year out of high school.

Anthony became a corporal and shipped out in 1943 for North Africa. From there he went on to Sicily and finally to mainland Italy where he was killed in action in late 1943.

Joe was already in England training for the Invasion of France when he got word about his brother. Early in the afternoon of 6 June 1944 he came ashore at Normandy. He was vomiting when the LST dropped the ramp, he stumbled forward, fell head first into the water but got to his feet and made it to the beach. The German machine gunners kept the water red.

He went all the way to Germany, Joe told me once that he thought he was protected by Anthony. In some village outside of Dusseldorf his platoon was ambushed but they beat the Germans back. He was wounded and awarded the Bronze Star for gallantry in action. He recuperated in France and was released fit for duty in March of 1945. He went back to his unit in Germany and celebrated when the surrender came in May.

After the war Joe came home, married a girl he had gone to school with and took up his father's mason tools while attending college on the GI Bill. His first son was born in 1946, they named him Anthony. The second son was born in 1948, they named him Joe Junior. After graduating from college he decided to go into the commercial printing business. In 1951 he started his own printing company, which prospered and grew.

In 1964 Anthony went to college where he joined the ROTC. He graduated in 1968 and was in Vietnam by the New Year. He was still a second lieutenant when he was killed in action. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star.

His second son Joe Junior received an appointment to West Point and graduated in 1970. He was with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He served two tours before being shipped stateside in 1974. He stayed in the service through 1976 when he resigned and joined the printing business. He married Emily the same year and their first child, a son, was born in 1978.

Their son is also a West Point graduate. He is 25, married with one daughter and has been serving with the 101st Airborne in Iraq since day one.

The grandfather Joe, still mourns the loss of his oldest son and prays for the safe return of his only grandson, Anthony.

This is a true story.



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An American Family -  A Letter From Viet Nam

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