There was Mrs. Trapani and Mrs. Cuteinella, and five or six others in my neighborhood. I passed their houses every day on my way to school and saw the symbol hanging in their windows: a simple Gold Star.
It said they had lost their son in the war. Those families never recovered from their loss. They were shattered forever.
In my family, there was my father's aunt, whose first name escapes me, but her last name was Mazzarella.
I went with my parents to her house in Maspeth, Queens, the day after she received a telegram from the War Department telling her that her son had been killed in action. I was only six years old, but even today I can hear the wailing and the cries of the parents who had lost their darling boy.
"Figlio mio! Figlio mio!" they cried. "My son! My son!"
Their hearts were broken forever.
I thought of all this when I saw parents of fallen hero U.S. soldier Capt. Humayun Khan exposing Donald Trump last week. They said Trump is unfit for the presidency, and I must say I agree with them.
Pakistan-born Khizr Khan, the father of the Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq, said that if it were up to Trump, his son never would have been American or served in the military.
Then Mr. Kahn reached into his pocket, pulled out a copy of the Constitution and posed a question to Donald Trump: "Have you read the Constitution? What sacrifices have you made for this country?"
It was a deathblow to Trump – one that he will never recover from.
The last time I saw words cut down a man the same way was on June 9, 1954, during the Army-McCarthy Senate hearings.
The Army hired Boston lawyer Joseph Welch. When McCarthy, who was loud, cunning, reckless and in so many ways like Trump, charged that one of Welch's attorneys had ties to a Communist organization, Welch responded with the lines that ended McCarthy's career:
"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness."
When McCarthy, who was a street fighter much like Donald Trump, tried to continue his attack, Welch, in a soft voice, interrupted: "Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"
In a few months, McCarthy's immense national popularity disappeared.
Trump lost me, and a lot of people I respect, early on. Build a wall and throw 11 million people out of the country? Calling Hispanics rapists? What kind of Nazi, Ku Klux Klan crap is that?
Want to read about a couple of immigrants Donald Trump would have thrown out of the country if he was around before World War II?
Here's the story of two of them – an Italian and a Mexican whose families probably first came to the United States as illegal immigrants.
John Basilone was one of a family of 10 children, born in Buffalo, New York, on November 4, 1916, to Italian parents. He was a United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. He held off 3000 Japanese troops at Guadalcanal after his 15-member unit was reduced to three men. Basilone was killed in action on the first day of the battle of Iwo Jima, after which he was posthumously honored with the Navy Cross.
Private First Class David M. Gonzales (June 9, 1923 – April 25, 1945) was a United States Army soldier who was born in Mexico. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor — the United States' highest military decoration — for his heroic actions during World War II.
On April 25, 1945, at age 22, PFC Gonzales was killed in action in the Philippines while, in the face of fierce enemy machine-gun fire, digging out and saving the lives of fellow soldiers who had been buried in a bomb explosion.
Think of these two, an Italian and a Mexican, and the many, many other men of every race and religion who were the children of immigrants – legal and illegal – whose bravery won them the Medal of Honor. They died so that anyone is free to run for the presidency, including that blowhard Donald Trump.
This is in no way an attempt to get those of you who plan to vote for Trump to change your minds.
From what I can see, for many of you, there's nothing that Trump can say or do to get you to think about what a disaster he would be as president, and how his term as president would destroy the Republican party and possible our wonderful country.
So vote for him. Just don't, I beg you, give me that "I'm voting for him because I can't vote for Hillary" line. That's a cop-out. That's bullcrap. If she and Bill Clinton are as guilty of everything you believe of her, she still would be a far better president than Donald Trump or our current disaster, Barack Obama.
We're talking about the future of the country.
That's why, for the first time in my life, I will be casting my vote as a good Republican, and a good American, for Hillary Clinton.
Jerry Della Femina, a restauranteur and advertising executive for over fifty years, was an adviser on the first season of the hit television show Mad Men. His iconic best seller, "From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor," is still must-reading in marketing and advertising classes.