Report by Samuel Liu
(One of our High School Essay Contest Winners)
A distinguished veteran and recipient of the medal of honor, Cavaiani spoke on the importance of patriotism. As a veteran who fought for the rights of Americans, Cavaiani said that it is important to vote.
“[The soldiers] are fighting for our freedom,” he said. “I get upset when I read that 56.2% of people vote in a presidential year. It’s a travesty. What the hell are we fighting for when people don’t speak their mind and put in paper and speak who they want elected?”
Cavaiani stressed that American freedoms should not be taken for granted.
“Thank God we don’t have the problems [Ireland is] having right now,” he said. “We here in America, you have no idea how lucky we are. Many of the ‘democracies’ don’t offer half the freedoms we have.”
Born in Ireland, Cavaiani was initially classified a “4F,” because he was allergic to bee stings. “[4F means the military] takes your mother before they take you,” he said. However, Cavaiani kept trying to get in. He was continually rejected because of his 4f status, until a doctor finally let him in.
“The day I got in they gave me a bee sting kit and I never got stung once,” Cavaiani said.
Cavaiani became an agricultural adviser and helped run an orphanage in Laos, Cambodia. Eventually, he was offered a captain’s bars by his commander but he saw had sergeant strips also and asked if he could have them instead.
In an act of heroism, Cavaiani risked his life for his comrades. When his camp came under heavy barrage from superior enemy forces, Cavaiani unhesitatingly volunteered to stay on the ground and help direct comrades to the evacuating helicopters. Overnight, Cavaiani directed defense preparation. The next morning, when the enemy attacked once again, Cavaiani stayed behind to allow his remaining comrades to escape. Cavaiani recovered a machine gun and fired it in a sweeping motion at the advancing ranks of enemy soldiers, inflicting heavy casualties. 11 days later in the forest of Vietnam, Cavaiani was captured and imprisoned until the end of the war.
“When I got out I was 98 pounds and 5 foot 7. [Vietnam] changed my attitude about life a little bit,” he said.
Cavaiani went on to work in Special Forces.
“I learned a lot of things, that might keep a young soldier alive,” he said. “I went back in, was in special forces for quite a few years, Delta Force two times... the first time I got blown up real bad, and spent three and a half years in casts.”
In the end, Cavaiani said that we should continue to support our soldiers at home and abroad.
“[They’re] defending our way of life ... [They’re not] war-mongers. Whenever our governor says deploy’em, they are a deterrent for peace.”
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