Why Memorial Day means so much to this popular Rochester Hills restaurant owner
Lino Borraccio: To fight for a cause,and that's what made Americans what we are'
On this Memorial Day we'd like you to meet a special metro Detroiter. His name is Lino Borraccio. He was saved by American soldiers in Europe during World War II. For this restaurant owner, this holiday holds a very special place in his heart.
Just what brings a 70 year old man to tears? To understand Lino Borraccio's emotion you have to step back in time.
1945: San Vittore Del Lazio is a small village about 90 minutes south of Rome. With World War II raging in Italy Lino, just 4 years old, has already tasted a lifetime of bitter agony.
It was hard. It was difficult, but y'know, we accept it
Antonio passes away during the war.
"I do remember, it’s like uh, a dark cloud in my head. I remember my father's funeral."
Lino spends day time hours close to his mother Rosa's side dodging Nazi bullets.
"They would come down and would shoot, and she would hide me under her."
With German forces occupying Italy, American bombers pelt the country side near Lino's town.
The 4 year old would hide in a cistern near an oil press with his family to escape the bombs.
"And they stayed there until it was over, and then they go back up and they would hear "oh such-and-such family got hit, and the other people died"
One night, Lino's great-grandfather Pietro ventures out to find his family water.
He didn’t' understand that they were told not to go near the water because it was mined, la fontana, the fountain. And he went, and he stepped on a mine, and it blew him up.
They could hear him scream, and nobody could help him.
As the war emaciates Italy: poverty is prevalent, infections are rampant, and little Lino is dying.
"My mother was ready to bury me, I was blind, I was uh, malnutritioned. So I was dying."
But then Lino says there's a miracle. The German forces fall back and the U.S. Fifth Army takes his town.
“Everybody got out, when the Americans came. Everybody went to the piazza. The Americans are here!" everybody's celebrating. They're passing out chewing gum, Camel, Lucky Strikes for the guys, and chocolates. “
Lino is taken by American soldiers to a hospital where the child gets life saving attention.
“Americans were very very generous. They wanted to help. And uh, they were, I don't know how to explain it. I was so enthused to see Americans with the uniform, you know, and little did I know eventually I would be one of them.:
On Memorial Day weekend in 1958 Lino and his mother move to Detroit, Michigan.
“I used to respect the uniform any time I see an American soldier I wondered what it feels like. I wanted to be that. So I joined.”
Lino enlists in the United States Army and in a twist,
the kid saved by the 5th Army is assigned to a base in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri home to the 5th Army.
"What Memorial Day means, Memorial Day, to me it's the best holiday in the country. People don’t' realize what it means to put your life on the line for the cause" to save you, so you can live, so you can have a better life, y'know? A better life."
Lino says he owes everything to those American Soldiers in his Italian village.
His Rochester Hills restaurant named Lino's is now home to three generations of Boraccio's: Lino, his son Tony, and his Grandson Michael.
A close knit metro Detroit family thanks to American soldiers who saved one life decades ago, now you understand what makes Lino so emotional.
"I would say to them: you give a lot. You came to a land that's not yours, and you fought, and you put your life on the line --a lot of 'em never made it back ---- to fight for a cause and that's what made Americans what we are.....it is."