LETTER: Destin vet hails unbroken line of heroes among us

Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 10:29 AM.

On this special day set aside to honor veterans, I want to share something special to me. On Nov. 11, 1939, Armistice Day, I could see dark clouds building up over Europe as Hitler was getting stronger and stronger with each day. So on that day I convinced my father and mother to let me join the National Guard Unit in Altoona, Penn. So I did, and today I am celebrating the 73rd anniversary of entering military service. I have never regretted that I joined and served our nation.

Having been born in Italy and growing up under the fascist rule of Mussolini until the age of 10, I appreciate our freedoms very highly and don’t take them for granted.

At the age of nine, I remember very vividly when on a special fascist celebration day, our entire village, about the size of Niceville, was told to get out and watch the parade. I was standing next to an elderly man who was bent over at the waist almost 90 degrees with what might have been osteoporosis. Some fascist Black Shirts walked ahead of the parade and in front of the people lining the street to ensure that everyone raised their right arm in the fascist salute.

The old man next to me could not raise his arm because of his physical condition. The fascist guards grabbed him by the arm and pulled him out of line and walked him up to the town dungeon, which was only 100 or so yards up the street.

That incident, although happening more than 80 years ago, left an indelible mark in my mind and always reminds me of what happens when freedom is lost.

Read more about Lombardo's amazing record of service, click here.

So on this day, I wish to honor all veterans and to thank them for their service to our nation. It’s because of them that we can still live free in this great country of ours.

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