An amazing story by Vanessa A. Alvarez, and one that deserves more attention here in Arizona — particularly with the expanding Mexican-American demographic in the southwestern part of the United States!
From NBC Latino:
Mexican-American honored as WWII Vet and Holocaust survivorby Vanessa A. Alvarez
12:14 pm on 04/29/2013
Anthony Acevedo is one of the World War II veterans being honored at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 20th Anniversary Tribute in Washington, D.C. But unlike his fellow honorees, Acevedo is also a Holocaust survivor.
At 88 years old, Acevedo exudes life. His voice over the phone is a glimpse into his young spirit: He’s talkative, loves a punchline and is extremely warm. His memory: So sharp, he can recall even the smallest of details.
Acevedo became the first Mexican-American to be registered with the museum’s survivor database in 2010.
A medic assigned to the 70th Infantry Division during the war, Acevedo was one of the 350 U.S. soldiers captured during the Battle of the Bulge in France and sent to the Berga An Der Elster labor camp — a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany from which only about 180 would survive by war’s end, he says.
It was during his time at Berga that Acevedo would begin writing in a diary, documenting everything he saw; logging information on the dead, sketching and pretty much doing whatever he could to keep his mind moving. This diary was his lifeline, he says.
“I used to write down recipes on a piece of paper and then discuss with my buddies what I would want to eat the minute I got home. I would say things like: ‘On this day, I want to be eating a hamburger,’” says Acevedo.
This diary is the first in the museum’s collection to be written by an American captive. Acevedo donated it during his first visit to the museum in 2010, along with his Red Cross arm band, a prayer-book he always carried during the war, a cross and numerous photographs, as well as a personal document of his father’s.
“I was scared but I tried to keep going with faith. Some didn’t have the faith but I always tried to remind myself that ‘Hey, you always have someone else to live for,’” he says.
For Acevedo, that person was his sweetheart, Dolores, who sent him care packages numerous times. Although they had never met, he had fallen in love with her just from those letters.
Born in San Bernardino, Calif., to Francisco and Maria Luisa Acevedo on July 31, 1924, Acevedo lost his mother as a baby and his father remarried four years later to a woman by the same name. They remained in California until the day his stepmother was deported and the family was faced with having to go back to Mexico. He has two full-blood sisters and three half-brothers from his father’s second marriage. Acevedo joined the U.S. army shortly after graduating high school, upon returning to the U.S. at the age of 18.
A difficult childhood stemming from an abusive father and memories of his nanny trying to drown him in the bathtub, Acevedo credits these events as the ones that built him up to sustain what lied ahead of him as a prisoner of war.
The awful conditions in the camp Acevedo remembers include once being fed boiled grass, not being allowed to bathe, sleeping in crowded barracks, wearing lice and flea-ridden clothing and being worked to the bone. Acevedo weighed 48 lbs by war’s end; the situation was enough to drive anyone mad. Acevedo recalls seeing many of the prisoners lose their minds. The worst part of it all was watching his buddies die, he says. FULL STORY HERE>>>