WWI vet dies unnoticed

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March 30, 2007

12:24 AM

It seems that as time goes on, the United States’ public interest becomes more and more trivial. Feb. 8, most people remember hearing or seeing the news that Anna Nicole Smith died. The former playmate died of unknown causes, and this engrossing, enthralling news story captured the attention of the American public for days on end. However, many people don’t know that on that same day, Antonio Pierro, an Italian-born American World War I combat veteran died at the age of 110. He also happened to be the oldest verified man living in the United States and the oldest verified World War I combat veteran.

p. The puzzling irony of the situation is that Smith, who lived a life of vanity completely removed from almost every living person in the United States, occupied the air waves while a heroic WWI combat veteran died without so much as a simple ticker line at the bottom of CNN. The only references to his passing were in Massachusetts-based publications such as The Boston Globe and the local obituaries of Swampscott, Mass.

p. Considering there are only 40 surviving veterans of World War I, with even fewer who were actually involved in combat, I find it incredible that more people are concerned with the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Is this what our society truly cares about? Is the death of an adult entertainer more newsworthy than the death of a combat veteran of a war that cost the lives of 116,708 American soldiers and 21,228,813 people worldwide? The media is a reflection of what our society values in day-to-day events; in my opinion, this event reflected poorly on our society.

p. To offer a proper memorial for Pierro, the following is some information about this man’s heroic life. Born on Feb. 22, 1896 in Forenza, Italy, he immigrated to the United States in 1914 where he resided in both Marblehead and Swampscott, Mass. He enlisted in the Army in 1918, trained at Fort Dix and was sent to France where he saw combat in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. Pierro also fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the 82nd American Expeditionary Force in the 320th Field Artillery, and he served as a member of the American Legion in Swampscott, Mass.
Pierro returned to the United States in 1919 and later married Marie Pierre in 1920. The couple did not have any children and Pierre died in 1967.

p. After his military service, Pierro worked in the General Electric jet engine plant in Lynn, Mass. Following the deaths of Thomas Nelson, Sr. and Emiliano Mercado del Toro, Jan. 9 and Jan. 24 respectively, Pierro became the oldest World War I combat veteran and the second oldest man in the world. Pierro lived out the rest of his life in Swampscott, Mass. with his younger, 98-year-old brother, where he died just a few weeks shy of his 111th birthday.

p. __Adam Farrar is a freshman at the College.__

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