Here's my grandmother, Dora Barbaresi, with her husband, Freddie Donroe. It’s 1943 and the U.S. is two years into the war with Germany and Japan. Freddie was drafted by the U.S. Army. So was his best friend, Eddie Apuzzo, who had married Dora's sister, Dava.
Patriotic though he was, Freddie didn’t relish the idea of going to war. Before shipping off, Freddie asked Dora to go to church with him. There, he prayed: God, I’m going away, and I may die. But, if I do, let me die before I kill anybody. I don’t want to die with blood on my hands. Take me first.
While he was stationed in Brittany, France, Freddie sent several letters home, including a voice message to his family recorded on vinyl, which we still have. He fought in the Battle for Brest in 1944, and though it was a victory in the end for the Allies, Freddie was killed in the process. Dora became a widow at age 25 with their baby daughter. Sixty-three years later, Nonni still gets tears in her eyes when she talks about the love of her life: “I never stopped loving him.”
Dava’s husband, Eddie, also died.
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