“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live, taking the form of a readiness to die.” G. K. Chesterton
On this Memorial Day 2016, I remember this story that was shared with me by my wife’s dad. Ron Prinzivalli was dying of an inoperable brain tumor. As he battled during the first six months of 1998, he spent a lot of time both reconciling with people he’d hurt and also calling to mind many stories from his past. One of the stories he shared with me was the story of a cousin who died during WWII. I honestly don’t know if my memory is starting to fail at age 51, or if Ron’s memory was failing and he actually told me this story in this way – but I remember Ron telling me that his cousin died on the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion. Ron went on to tell me that the story of his cousin’s bravery, and his willingness to die for the cause of freedom, was one of the memories that inspired him as he battled his tumor. The long shadow of his cousin’s bravery gave him courage as he faced the last months of his life. It’s interesting, but that is what unfiltered courage and sacrifice does. It not only inspires and ennobles the people seeing the courage take place in real-time, but it also casts a far-reaching shadow to inspire and ennoble people much later in history.
In honor of Ron’s memory, I did a little research and discovered the full story of his cousin’s courage. I discovered that his cousin, Private Anthony Prinzivalli, did in fact give the ultimate sacrifice, but it wasn’t on the beaches of Normandy. Private Anthony survived Normandy and the many battles that raged as the Allies stormed inland toward Germany. Private Anthony Prinzivalli, from the 347th Infantry, 87th Infantry Division of the US Army, gave the ultimate sacrifice on Dec. 15 1944 during the pivotal Battle of the Bulge. On the same day that big-band leader Glenn Miller’s military plane went down after he’d played a swing concert for the US troops, and got all the headlines, Private Prinzivalli quietly died without any headlines as he fought for freedom in Europe. But even though he didn’t get any headlines, his story and his bravery strongly affected his cousin Peter Ronald Prinzivalli 54 years later.
Today we say thank you to all the family’s who have lost loved ones in battle and we honor their sacrifice!