This Veteran’s Day I have been very reflective as I have one son serving in the military as an Army Airborne Combat Medic, my father was a Marine, I have had many family members who have served and still serve, as well as an aunt who died two weeks ago who was also a Marine, and I know based on our rosary group and talking with parishioners, we have many veterans who are part of our community. This day makes me think about how we think of our military and our veterans. How do we honor them every day and not just on Veteran’s Day?
During World War II, it was a time many considered those who served as being from the greatest generation. In the 1940’s even women enlisted to serve to end oppression. People served for God and country. Many of my mother’s side of the family served during this time. I had one uncle who died during this war as did many others. And then there were those who came home, some in better shape than others based on their experiences. One of those who lived with both experiences was my Aunt Mary Cicconi.
My Aunt Mary, born May 27, 1921, had followed the path of her two brothers, my uncles, Joseph and Paul, by joining the service and becoming a Marine. She enlisted in 1943 stating her oath to serve until the end of the war. She began her service at Camp Lejeune, NC as a private and was discharged as a Sergeant in May 1945.
While on a 72 hour weekend pass, she married her longtime admirer and serviceman, B-17 Air Force Bomber 1st Lt. Anthony (Tony) D. Cicconi, on April 24, 1944. My Uncle Tony flew 38 missions and on August 15, 1944, he was shot down and captured In Valence, France with a head injury and taken to Germany as a POW until the liberation in May 1945.
She was a newlywed when her husband went missing; she ended the war with a husband who was different than the man she married. My Uncle Tony never talked much about being a POW, but he dealt with PTSD that was left untreated. Many from this generation dealt with this condition as they did before and continue to this day. I am grateful that there is more awareness and PTSD is better understood now for my son’s sake and for all those who serve.
Yet even with this knowledge, 20 veterans die by suicide every day. What more can we do for them? We can certainly start by praying for them and for peace in our world, as well as honoring and serving them. Some help Blue Star Families by gathering once a month to make quilts for veterans. In Shoup Park, we have a beautiful memorial statue, Cradle of Liberty that was donated to the City by the Veterans’ Memorial Association of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills in 1998 and there is Veterans Community Plaza at Main and State Street. There are groups that support veteran trips to Washington DC through Honor Flight Network so they can see our countries support through the memorials. And of course there are many of our veterans who are homeless we can serve. Veteran’s Day is a day we can all ask how we can help those who helped us.
— Reflection by Catherine Campbell