By John Lynds
Reprinted from The East Boston Times
EAST BOSTON, Ma. — Those who know 100-year-old Anthony "Tony the Kid" Barrasso will tell you the tough World War II veteran still has a lot of fire in his belly as he reached a special birthday milestone last Thursday at the Don Orione Home in Orient Heights, East Boston.
Barrasso, a WWII veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and in General George Patton's army, was all smiles as elected officials and veterans representatives turned out wish him a happy birthday during a special celebration at the home.
Citations, an American flag that once flew over the White House, veteran's pins and other gifts were presented to Barrasso from the likes of Rep. Adrian Madaro, City Councilor Lydia Edwards, VA Boston Healthcare System Director Vincent Ng, Chief of Geriatrics and Extended Care Service Line of VA Boston Healthcare System Dr. Steven Simon, and Mass. Secretary of Veterans Services Francisco A. Urena.
The Adult Day Health Center at the home was filled to capacity with Barrasso's friends and family as well as Don Orione staff and residents to watch Barrasso, dressed in patriotic red, white and blue, receive the 100th birthday celebration he deserved.
"I'm blessed to be here to honor an extraordinary veteran named Mr. Anthony Barrasso who turned 100 years old today," said Edwards. "Mr. Barrasso fought bravely in the Battle of the Bulge and in Gen. Patton’s army. His impressive life deserves an impressive birthday party."
Madaro, who presented Barrasso with a citation from the Commonwealth's House of Representatives added, "Today we are celebrating 100 years of life for Anthony Barrasso. Anthony is a veteran of World War II, and it is an incredible feat that he is here today. But he’s also a son of East Boston, and so it’s very special to be surrounded by so many friends and family and fellow veterans to mark this incredible occasion.”
Following a series of speeches and gifts Barrasso, known among the Don Orione staff as quite the crooner, led the room in the Happy Birthday song. Before being led back to his table to enjoy a fully catered lunch, Barrasso's daughter, Denice, gave an emotional "Thank you" to her father.
“Thank you, Daddy, for showing me respect, for showing me love... You and Mommy showed me the world,” said Denice Barrasso. “You’re a good father, a good grandfather, a good husband, a good friend. You’re a good man, and I love you. And I’d like to take you another 100 years. I love you, Daddy.”
The 100-year-old Barrasso smiled, waved and saluted all who had come out to make his birthday a little more special. The event underscored the strong connection that has always existed between the Veterans Health Administration and the Don Orione Home. The Veterans Health Administration began during the Civil War, in March of 1865, and The Don Orione Home began operations in March of 1949. The organizations work together to honor and care for veterans and the elderly.