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November 7, 2013

World War II survivor pays tribute

(Continued)

His military duty is very well defined. He served as a gunner aboard a B-24 Liberator, flying many successful missions. He survived the war, not to mention a serious illness in 1985 that nearly took his life. He had been told by a radiologist that he had an 85 percent blockage of his right carotid artery.

He presented that Cher painting to the hospital that performed the life-saving surgery.

The guitars he crafts are fashioned after an Antonio Torres model, a famous guitar-maker in the mid-1800s. He’s passed the talent on to twin grandsons who are perpetuating the art. The entire family is musically-oriented.

Ask him about his favorite idols and he’ll tell you Stradivari, who lived to age 94 making violins, and Leonardo Da Vinci, artist extraordinaire, for “all his talent and insight.”

The Veterans Day poem symbolizes a moment in time meant to be cherished and appreciated by all those who served this country in the name of freedom. He titles it “The Irony of Veterans Day Celebration.”

It reads:

“While giving thanks to those who perished to serve

How shall one who lived receive thanks for having served?

For ‘tis strange to hear all grateful beings

And I with survival guilt, receiving thanks for serving

Having lived with trials and mounting fears

Only to have survived the cruelties of war

While wonderful young soldiers thrust into hell

In the prime of their lives, subjected to the death knell

So ‘tis I that gives thanks for having survived

And wish to beg you, allow me to contrive

Though your grateful thanks and celebration are nice

Allow me to convey your thanks to those

Who have paid the ultimate price

Thank you for your thoughts

And God bless all you precious souls.’’

Writer and photographer Tom Vartebedian is retired from The Haverhill Gazette. He contributes this regular column.

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