One of the greatest stories I have ever had the opportunity to share was that of my hero, Staff Sgt. Salvatore J. DeFrancesco, recipient of not one but two purple hearts.
An italian immigrant his parents and family moved to the states when he was a small boy. Jump ahead to the war and not only did he dedicate himself to the United States Army but his siblings did as well, one of which did not return home. Then becoming injured himself, he was awarded two purple hearts for his service and went on to meet the love of his life, Martha and have three beautiful children and two (IMO) pretty awesome grandchildren. The injuries sustained were in not one, but both legs and still after many surgeries and therapies he continued to stand in the kitchen for decades as one of the most well-known chefs in the greater Boston area. This is the short version of my hero. To some he was a notable WWII Veteran, to others a renowned chef of his time and location, but to me he was Grandpa.
His commitment and dedication will forever be the portrait in my mind of all veterans serving today and everyday, past and present. I was fortunate enough to hear his story and just like that of every veteran, the story is not mine, it is his. Every experience is different. He spoke of his time in the war candidly but yet with many moments of pause. I remember the interview like it was yesterday and really, it was almost 20 years ago.
Of course, memories of your hero never fade; and neither does the heart and soul of a soldier. The commitment and sacrifice that he, my great-uncles, and all other soldiers have made and continue to make, is astounding. Past, present and future service-men and women continue to echo this strength every.single.day. Whether it is on the battlefield, in a kitchen, from a hospital bed or in the hearts of spirited little girls everywhere, the weight of love and humility in a soldier is the true peace of war.
Thank you to all of our veterans.