When I think about this day, I think about my Uncle Hal Huffman, a Marine who hit the beach on Iwo Jima, and the other islands in the Pacific during World War II. Hell on Earth for those who served there. I think of all of those soldiers and sailors who took part in D-Day in Europe. So many left dead on those beaches as they were thrown against the massive defenses that the Axis powers had set up to keep Europe enslaved in the war that saw the worst mass murders in history. All of those souls knew that they faced death, but this did not stem their resolve to do what had to be done to finally put and end to the murder and religious oppression.
I think of my father's friend, John Bavosa, killed in a mission to hurt the enemy where they lived. I think of my father, who could have stayed relatively safe in Panama, but instead fought with his superiors to be sent to the European Theatre to fight against these enemies of decency and freedom. I think of professional ballplayers who took years off of their careers, Hollywood Actors and Actresses and Entertainers from radio and the music industry, who volunteered to do what they could for the war effort. They did not curse the government, or give aid and comfort to the enemy like those from later wars, they did what they could to stop the spread of evil and give solace to the men and women at the front.
I think of the men and women who served in Korea, who served under the most horrific conditions to keep a part of the Korean peninsula free.
I think of my friends and comrades who served in Vietnam without complaint because they believed that it was the right thing to do. Fred Carraturo, Bobby Lysacht, Willie Newsome, John Olsen and the other's who gave their lives in that war.
And finally, I think of all those who came later, in the all volunteer service, who know what they are doing and sign up to fight the wars in the Middle East and Africa so that we may continue to live in freedom.
Thank You. To all who served. To all who gave all. To those who continue to serve. I love you all, and I honor your service today, and every day that I continue to breathe the free air in this country.
John Zaffino Corporal, United States Marine Corps 1966 - 1972