An Interview with World War II Veteran
by Dan M.,Congers, NY I interviewed my great grandfather, Angelo Abruzzi, who wassubjected to the horror and terror of World War II. He was 25 years old at thetime and now his 87-year-old mind thinks back to its darkest memories. Eventhough I tried not to ask many heartfelt questions, my great grandfather brokedown and wept. I truly felt the sadness that his eyes have seen and just by hiswords, depression fell heavy on my heart.
What did it feel likewhen you found out that you were chosen to serve our country in war?
War -that's an interesting word. It sends many emotions through my mind: anger,power, destruction, hope, nationalism, pride. Feelings and pressure surrounded meas I left for the war, and I knew one way or another that I'd return a changedman.
What happened to you after you left the Bronx to fulfill yourduty as a citizen of the United States?
Well, even though I was nervousand afraid to get on the bus full of men my age, adrenaline and excitement flowedthrough my body. It was a hot day, and the stench of sweat filled the bus. Thedoor closed behind me, and I grabbed a seat in the back of the bus and slept. I'mnot sure for how long, but I woke up to silence as we entered the camp. Here weall were given cots and clothes, and for the next two months, wetrained.
What happened during the actual war itself? What is yourmost memorable thought of the war?
Truthfully, I've tried to leave all ofmy memories in the past because they always get me in an uproar. But what I doremember is that I woke up every morning to the sounds of moans or explosions,and we had to sleep in shifts so the others could sleep safely. Smoke filled theskies constantly as screams surrounded the camp area. Most of the time, I criedmyself to sleep thinking of Francesca, my wife to be. My most memorable thoughtwas of my newly acquired friend, Ben. He was right beside me (near enemy lines)when an explosion occurred. I'm not sure what caused it; he was shot 20 feet intothe air. He broke both of his legs, and lost an arm. He was discharged, and Iremember wishing I were him just so that I could go home.
What didyou feel like when you were on your way home to see Francesca again?
Atfirst I was quite afraid because I had been gone for so long and my imaginationran away, making me think she had met someone else. As I began to see familiarsights of my neighborhood, my heart filled with happiness. The memories of beinga kid on those streets made my face light up with a smile. I passed Francesca'shouse, and thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest with passion. Iremember wanting to jump out the window and run to her front door but I couldn't.I was almost home, and my life was about to start again.
Didpeople treat you differently when you came home?
Surprisingly enough, no.I mean my family did, but the neighbors and other people acted as if nothing hadhappened. It got me mad for a little while when I wanted to talk to people aboutit, and they changed the topic. Oh, well. It's not like I did anything great. Iwent overseas, killed some Nazis and came back. Why should they be happy orexcited? Maybe because I risked my neck for their country and theworld!
Whatever happened to you and Francesca, and the rest ofyour life?
Well, this is hard for me to talk about, but I'll try my best.It seems that my imagination was right after all, because Francesca had foundanother man and married him. I was completely destroyed, and I felt that therewas no reason to live. I slit my wrists, but my mother found me and took me tothe hospital. There I met your great grandmother, Rosa. When I first met her, Icould have sworn that I was dead and she was an angel ready to take me to heaven.One year later I married her and we had three wonderful children. Our lifetogether was great, and even though she died five years ago, she'll always bewith me in my heart.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.