Oh well, I like the art of Norman Rockwell since my twenties. As an artist, and painter, he moves me to tears. Here is a nice story of a vet’s daughter that I copy from Tracking the 101st Cavalry
, with courtesy of. Before I leave you with this, I’d like to add my small personal experience about WWII
. Of course, I am too young for having memories from the war times. But my hometown was on the yellow line
, in Italy
, and my mother lost his brother at 16
because of a bomb left unexplosed. Actually, she came after his death, in 1946
, and she was given his brother’s name, Tonino, on the female, Tonina.
They say that your name carries a karma, so I wonder which karma my mum carries from her brother. It’s heavy for a baby to get this debt. Anyway, she comes from a family of 7, and this costume to have at least 4, 5 children was very common in the 40s. Another brother of her, Armando, left during 2 years. This story was never told. He was supposed to be in a concentration camp, maybe in Germany, but I am not sure. Nobody ever talked about his time in the camp. He came back home, once the war was finished, walking along the Adriatic Coast, near Rimini, on his own feet.
But I can’t say more, by now. Tabou. All families got their secrets, right?
Until 90s, in Italy, Military Service was obligatory, so, my granddad choosed Navy, in 30s, he was on the beautiful “Amerigo Vespucci“ training ship, as seal led, and my father, in 60s, in genius bridge builder. My brother was the one who didn’t give a damn of it, and he was invalided from army. First, because of his flat feet, and second, they didn’t accept shortsighted.
Me, as a child, in 80s, I was serving as a proud boy scout, on the Romagna hills (Sant’Agata Feltria, in a windy night a tent fell down, at 3pm, and I admit, that was my biggest adventure as Ladybug that I recall except hiding in the woods in the dark, and get lost, of course, or dish washing in the river), but still too shy to become a team leader. Such a shame.
My youth education was based on war stories books. Not only at school, but also, at home. Granddad, il nonno Ristin, liked strategy and big leaders biographies (Stalin, Lenin); we had this massive cultural propaganda against Communism, despite my family came from farmers and workers. At Christmas time, I remember dad, uncle and granddad having huge controversial conversations on politics, as well as football topics.
Tourism boom was the service industry which made people rich and individualist.
Personally, I have been captured by Primo Levi biography and books (If this is a man – Survival in Auschwitz), so when I saw Schindler’s List, I finally put images on what I read. And this shocked me (the scene where they run, naked, in circle and the physicians visit them or the achitect lady who was shot building the hut because she warned the Officer that the hut was going to fall down and more). Levi, I felt much empathy for him, especially, after his suicide in Turin. He fell from third apart’s floor, but someone says it was accidental. What I couldn’t understand as child was how could he can commit suicide, in 1987, after 40 years back home.
Sorry, I guess, I’ll stop here.
Vincent Kelly, Company F, 116th Squadron, 101st Cavalry, posed for this Normal Rockwell illustration. It is used courtesy of the Army Art Collection, US Army Center of Military History.
I interviewed a few veterans who told me that “some guy in the unit” posed for Normal Rockwell. No one knew his name, no one could provide any details, and no one confessed to being that mystery soldier. It was a real dead end, so I didn’t include anything about it in Tracking the 101st Cavalry.
I had, in fact, almost forgotten about it, when I heard from the daughter of Staff Sgt. Vincent A. Kelly, Company F, 116th Squadron. She (regrettably, she didn’t sign the email, so I don’t have her name and recent emails have been returned) wrote that her father, who was originally from Brooklyn, was asked to pose for Rockwell while the troops were still in the U.S. Kelly was seated behind a machine gun for the painting, which was called “Give ‘um Enough and On Time.”
“Norman Rockwell walked over to him and tore his shirt,” she wrote. “He paid him $5.00 in a check that he wished he had never cashed. He was also given some sketches from Norman Rockwell.”
Her father didn’t talk much about the war, she wrote, just a few random comments like many of the men. “He did say that while they were waiting to land in France, he almost passed out from the fumes building up in the tank. He said another time that he was taking a picture of something, and a sniper shot at him. At first, he thought he had been shot in the face, as the bullet tore through the bellows of the camera, and he fell back into the tank yelling, ‘I’ve been hit! I’ve been hit!’ Then he realized that he had goop from the camera on his face instead of blood. He laughed about that.”
On April 1, 1945, Sgt. Kelly was under heavy enemy sniper fire in the vicinity of Distelhausen. Although he was wounded and facing continuous sniper fire, Kelly rushed into danger to give first aid to seriously wounded personnel and help evacuate them. For that bravery, he earned the Silver Star.
“He didn’t talk about winning the Silver Star very much,” his daughter wrote. “He did tell me that he felt bad because one of the men he was trying to rescue was shot in the head as my Dad picked him up. The bullet went through Dad’s leg as well. Dad wondered if maybe he had left the man on the ground, maybe he would have been saved. I know my Dad was a hero, and our entire family is proud of him. He passed away in 1998, at the age of 85.”