By Ashley Lodato
Gratitude this week goes to the Spinners and Weavers Guild, who — despite (or perhaps in response to) the abundance of low-quality fabrics made cheaply by children in China and Bangladesh — continue to spin color and texture into functional art, bringing their beauty into our lives. The Spinners and Weavers Guild is having its annual sale this weekend on Friday and Saturday at 137 Old Twisp Highway; go feast your eyes.
Like many people, I’m guessing, I spent Veterans Day and much of the weekend thinking of the veterans in my family. A photo of my father in a flight jacket on Veteran’s Day 1966, after his first solo flight; not yet a veteran, but a tour in Vietnam with the U.S. Air Force not too far in his future. My uncles in the U.S. Army Special Forces joining him in Southeast Asia. My cousin Lizzie returning to her post in Iraq just 30 days after giving birth to her daughter. I thought of the service of all these people, but mostly I thought about my grandfather, who spent 32 months in Europe during World War II.
My grandfather used to like to tell us about the busiest weekend of his life: Flag Day weekend in June of 1941: “On Friday I received my commission from the U.S. Army. On Saturday I graduated from college. On Sunday I got married. And on Monday I reported to Camp Roberts for active duty.”
Just over a year later, my grandfather said goodbye to his young wife and newborn son and shipped out with the Third Infantry Division. After making an amphibious landing at Casablanca, the division fought its way across northern Africa. For my grandfather, it was the beginning of nearly three years in northern Africa, Italy and southern France.
When my grandfather spoke to us about the war, it was not to talk about surviving the Allied invasion of Sicily, the landing at Anzio, and the Battle of the Bulge, but rather to tell stories of an unlikely friendship forged during his time in Rome. Dante was a young Italian soldier whose family — like those of many Italians — was struggling to secure food and other necessities. For several months my grandfather, himself the son of Italian immigrants, shared his supplies with Dante. The two young soldiers stayed in touch after the war, and later visited each other on occasion, when life circumstances had rendered them fortunate enough to afford to travel. This bond formed during the dark days of war became a friendship that transcended political, cultural and language barriers, and it lasted a lifetime.
My grandfather came home in the spring of 1945 with a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a small place in the story of the defeat of a tyrant. My grandfather — along with so many others — stood up against the worst display of racially motivated ideology the world had ever witnessed, with the hope that the world would never tolerate such things again.