A veteran’s tale

While I want to pay homage to all the Veterans, I was thinking about the story of my grandfather, who became the subject of one of my paintings.

My grandpa decided to go against the law and secretly escape military service.

It was a different time. It was the Second World War. But here’s the story that is the inspiration for one of my paintings.

When I was born my grandfather was still alive. We had a special connection. His name was “Nonno Domenico” and he was gentle and kind.

I will never forget his eyes. Blue deep ice eyes surrounded by a wrinkled face. When I was 5 years old he died in a silly car accident in front of his house.

He was walking on the side of the road and a car hit him. They never found the offender.

and old picture of my grandparents
An old picture of my grandparents

One day my parents told me his story.

1941. Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Germany initiated WWII by invading Poland. My country, Italy was led by another psychopathic who was allied to Germany named Benito Mussolini. Two infamous leaders created mass destruction in Europe and almost caused the entire world to go to war.

In June, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union and the Italian army supported this operation named operation “Barbarossa”.

The area saw some of history’s largest battles, and most horrific atrocities, all of which influenced the course of World War II and the subsequent history of the 20th century.

While in Russia with other Italian soldiers my grandfather secretly decided to desert the army. He had a wife and a few kids back home (my mother wasn’t yet born).

He didn’t want to die in war and leave orphans and a widow.

So he did the bravest and most incredible thing he could do. He walked back. A trip of more than 300 hours, and a thousand miles, hiding from main roads in order to be able to walk back home.

 

In the meantime a secret resistance grew amongst the population and the Italian army, causing the fall of Mussolini.

My grandfather not only had to walk back from Russia, a trip equal to the distance from New Orleans to Washington or New York, but once home he had to hide underground for an entire year.

Can you imagine being forced to spend your entire day underground hiding away, and being able to see your family only during the night?

He survived this incredible atrocity, but the price was too high. This changed him so drastically that he became extremely quiet.

He rarely spoke and he had turbulent nightmares.

When I met him I didn’t know he went through that. And even if I knew, how could I understand? I was just a kid.

Still today, after 35 years, I remember very few things about him. His eyes, his pipe. The cigarettes, his loose shirt, his jokes. He was extremely thin so his belt held long paints too big for his waist.

He carried a knife he made himself.

All I can think now is that if he wasn’t so brave to go against the rules I will be not here to tell this story.

I think that it’s good serving the veterans and whoever gave their lives to save ours. But not every war is good.

Today I am celebrating my grandpa, who decided to not go to war, gratefully he deserted it in order to save his life and ultimately mine.

The painting

The original painting was sold in 2021 and is now owned by a private collector. It’s a watercolor on paper framed with a brown cigar leaf frame.

If you want you can have a certified numbered copy with the same frame, the same matt, and the UV-protected glass.