I often wonder if it possible to miss someone that you have never met. You see, 19 years before I was born my life changed completely. My grandfather, Frank Ianuzelli, a 22 yr old second generation Italian immigrant to New Jersey, was killed in the Battle of the Bulge on or around January 7, 1945 just a few short months before the end of the war. His brother, Nick, would be injured during the war as well and although he survived he was never the same. So my mother would be fatherless at the age of 2 and be relegated to a life not knowing her Dad other than the black and white photos (mostly of him in uniform) and the memories of others.
Of course, I am writing about these things on July 4th because it is important. We have brave men and women, all volunteers unlike those drafted into service in the past, that are serving around the world as you read this. I recognize from time to time (in other words, not nearly often enough) that there are things going on to protect me and my family. I go to work, I write about internet marketing, I work to build my business and I sometimes get frustrated and upset. If I really would stop and think maybe I wouldn’t get upset because I have it better than most. Am I rich by US standards? Monetarily, no. Once I get beyond that ridiculously artificial metric I can see that I am wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. I live in a free country. Now, I know some of you would want to debate that but don’t waste your time with me. No matter how thrilled or upset you may be with the US and its shortcomings, there is no better place on the planet to be “free”. I have a business in a beautiful part of the country and I have an awesome family. I have been blessed by the Lord in ways I could have never fathomed. It has come at a price though and I realized that I have only picked up a very small part of that tab.
I have a good idea of what it’s like to live with the effects of war. I have never served but my family has sacrificed greatly so I can sit here and write this. I think about my grandfather often. I was named after him. I am told he was a real good guy. I hope that I will see him in Heaven someday and spend eternity getting to know him. I wonder what my life would have been like had he lived and had an influence on me beyond recollections of times long past and far too few pictures. My mom has the flag that was given to my grandmother when his body was finally brought home 3 years after his death in a foreign land. His Purple Heart was buried with him (or so the family legend goes). I have the letter that my grandmother received from Franklin D. Roosevelt that gives the minor comfort of saying that Frank Ianuzelli …
“…stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives – in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.”
Would I rather have been able to talk to him and hug him? Yes, without a doubt. It is comforting to know, however, that others have lived because of his sacrifice (there is an amazing story here that I will share at another time). The Bible tells us that “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). I know he loved me even though he never knew me and I know I am his friend. That’s comforting to me.
So on this 4th of July I want to say thank you to everyone who has served or is serving to protect me and mine. Your sacrifice indeed “humbles the undertakings of most men.” Thank you and may the Lord protect you and your family.