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Liverpool Public Library honors vets

"Popular opinion was that we needed to stop Hitler," Leggett said.

Two veterans (John Landers and Michael Yablonski) served during the Vietnam War in the 1960s, when first John F. Kennedy, then Lyndon Johnson, then Richard Nixon served as president. Vietnam, Landers said, was far less popular than WWII.

"Vietnam was very unpopular," he said. "There was a lot of protest. It's unfortunate that people felt that way, but a lot of people fought for their right to speak up."

Another vet (George Alessio) spent his time in the service in Italy during the Cold War. He enlisted in 1981, when Ronald Reagan was president. He is still a member of the naval reserves.

The last veteran (Richard Senecal) served several military bases in the U.S. during the Korean War under the Dwight Eisenhower administration.

How hard was life in the war and the military?

"I think we'll all agree that life in the military has its ups and downs," Leggett said. "There's the esprit de corps, and that's what keeps you there. But it could sometimes be very frightening."

Alessio, though not himself a combat veteran, agreed.

"Whatever happens, you're trained to do and react in a way to protect yourself and your comrades," he said. "But you never know what's going to happen."

Why did you enlist?

While many were compelled to join by the draft, others chose to do so, and all expressed pride and gratitude for the opportunity to have served their country. Some were drawn by the promise of three square meals and clean sheets, others by the promise of adventure overseas. Others had more mundane concerns.

"I was a sophomore at New York University's College of Engineering," Paschetto said. "There was a message from the dean that anyone who was drafted or volunteered for the service wouldn't have to take the finals, so I went and enlisted."

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