Veterans Day 2020: Honoring America's Faithful Guardians
Dug into a frozen foxhole outside the embattled town of Bastogne Belgium during World War II’s pivotal Battle of the Bulge, nineteen-year-old Vincent J. Speranza manned his machine gun. Serving in Company H, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Speranza and his comrades were part of the resistance that faced a massive German counteroffensive spearheaded by nearly 250,000 troops and 1,000 tanks that intended to smash through the Allies and reverse the tide of the Second World War. On the frontlines of this massive clash, which Bastogne was one of the centerpieces of, Speranza vividly recalled ducking down while German tanks rolled over his unit’s entrenchments, and picking his head back up to fire at the advancing enemy infantry while American artillery and anti-tank men dealt with the hostile armor lumbering in their rear. The unbreakable fighting spirt of Speranza and so many others ultimately broke the back of Nazi Germany at the Battle of the Bulge, securing one of the most important Allied victories of World War II.
Vincent Speranza served 144 days in combat during World War II. While under fire, he often thought back to the words that his father told him and his brothers: "this nation must not fail." As Speranza put it, “That’s what stayed with me, especially in battle.” That motto has been etched onto the heartstrings of countless generations of American warriors. From General George Washington and his ragtag soldiers dragging their bloodied feet across the snow to save the American Revolution on Christmas night in 1776 to every other breed of American fighter that has followed in their footsteps over the years, America’s survival has always been placed in the hands of her faithful guardians. Nearly 40 million Americans have stood up to serve and defend the United States since the Revolutionary War. Those knights of the Stars and Stripes have all played a special role in our nation’s history and it is because of them that American has never failed.
In this clip from my interview with Vincent J. Speranza at the Thayer Hotel in December 2018, the legendary World War II hero talks about the significance of the unforgettable words that his father told him and his brothers: "This nation must not fail."
Veterans Day is a time to reflect on how blessed we are to live with all of our precious freedoms and to express our gratitude to all who have put themselves in harms way to keep our special land of liberty safe and secure. We owe a debt that can never fully be repaid to all who have served and sacrificed for something far greater than themselves. Just as our veterans have always been there whenever or wherever our nation has needed them, we too must do everything in our power to support past and present generations of America’s warriors. Duty truly goes both ways.
In honor of Veterans Day, please enjoy the following interviews with U.S. Army combat veterans Mike Doody and John Fratangelo.