Robert Benedetto, better known as Bagsy by his loved ones and Grandpa Bags to me. Incredible man, father, grandpa, and honorable veteran. At just 18, he was drafted and positioned on the Aleutian Islands. Very cold little islands in Alaska that held important strategic value to both the United States and Japan. The U.S. believed that the islands could be used as bases for which Japan would attack the rest of the United States. U.S General Billy Mitchell once stated “I believe that in the future, whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. I think it is the most important strategic place in the world.”
Drafted before he was able to finish high school, he was sent to the middle of nowhere. The middle of nowhere, where temperatures drop below zero, and everyone and everything is foreign. At just 18, he was prepared to risk his life for his country, so that one day his kids and grandkids could live free.
There are two simple words that I don’t say enough. Two little words that will never quite show the gratitude I have for you. Thank you! To my hero, and all the other hero’s, the men and women of the armed forces, thank you!
Not many people understand just what you surrendered to defend our nation and our freedom. You gave up countless days and years, you endured extreme temperatures, away from your family and friends to protect me. To protect the granddaughter you had never met and the country you believed in. You risked your life so that I can sleep safely in bed at night, so that I can wake up each day and live as freely as I please. Because of you the Benedetto roots runs strong. Because of you, we have a name that brings pride and honor, even if it is hard for others to pronounce and spell.
Grandpa Bags you are a hero. I am incredibly honored to be your granddaughter and forever grateful for what you gave up for me. At 95 years young, you are my biggest inspiration. This October as you took to the skies, I was once again honored to be a “Benedetto.” The Honor Flight of the Central Coast, an amazing foundation dedicated to honoring veterans, celebrated your commitment to our country by flying you and 20 other veterans to the Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The whole Benedetto clan was so honored and humbled by your experience as we were once again reminded how special you are. At 95, there are not too many World War II veterans left, but you, our Grandpa Bags, you continue to thrive in this country that you helped make free.
As I threw my cap in the air to celebrate my high school graduation, you were right there to receive your much anticipated high school diploma with me. What an incredible experience, to graduate on the same day as a veteran, as my grandfather, who went to serve our country instead of graduating high school. I am proud and honored to share that day with you.
Your spirit amazes me each day as you take on life with the ultimate passion and joy that shines in your laugh and smile. I am forever grateful to you and your service members. Thank you! Thank you for all the opportunities I have in this free country. Thank you for risking your life so that I can be happy and healthy. Thank you for being by my side to share all the big moments in my life that were made possible by the blessing of freedom. Thank you for being my Grandpa Bags.
Happy Veterans Day!