As told by Anthony J. Amoroso:
Heroes aren’t supposed to be ordinary. Yet that’s what my brother was: an ordinary guy living his life the best he knew.
If he was just an ordinary guy, what was it that made him a hero? He was my big brother. We were a large Italian family in Boston: Angelo and I had five sisters. It was rare and wonderful when we finally got our turn in the one bathroom in our house!
The day he left for the Army, I watched as my brother walked away. I had no idea if I’d ever see him again because he was on his way to Vietnam. For the next year, we anxiously awaited word from Angelo. We waited weeks and sometimes months to hear from him.
Once, all we got was a scrap of paper from a rations can with a few words scrawled in haste, but we were thrilled to know that he was still alive. Then one day, Angelo came home!
Coming back home and adjusting to an “ordinary” life after serving in Vietnam was difficult for Angelo. It became obvious that talking about the war was very painful for him. Angelo became withdrawn, angry, and he was drinking heavily.
There were times when I saw him on someone’s front steps crying with his face in his hands. It is clear to me now that Angelo was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. No one offered him any help because he never asked. He simply tried to function as best he could.
Over the next 25 years, Angelo worked as a roofer. He was a faithful employee and a good worker. Looking back, I have regrets. I wish I’d tried harder to understand Angelo’s post-war problems, but I didn’t know how to help him.
In 2000, I was living in Florida when Angelo called me, asking if he could live with me. “I have cancer,” he said. His marriage had ended and he was homeless. He stayed for a while, but as the cancer progressed, he needed more care than I could provide. He died in 2003 at age 54 in a Hospice facility.
Why should Angelo’s story matter to you? Angelo served our country with distinction and honor during one of the most difficult wars in our history. His cancer was complicated by exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Consequently, from my perspective, even though it was years after the war, my brother Angelo gave his life for our freedom.
Angelo Michael Amoroso was no ordinary hero. He is one of many thousands of servicemen and women who may never receive the honor and thanks they deserve.
May we remember with humble gratitude their extraordinary sacrifices and service to America!Tags: grief, hope
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