SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) — Veterans Day isn’t just about celebrating everyone who’s worn the uniform.
It also has a very special meaning that 12 News analyst Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio (ret.) worries is sometimes lost.
“Veterans Day is intended for the American people to thank those who made it possible to enjoy the freedom we take for granted,” he said. “It’s also an opportunity for a soldier to tell his or her story … sometimes for the very first time.”
Centracchio said it’s important that every American remember the phrase: “Freedom is not free.”
“That has meaning to it,” Centracchio said of the phrase. “For that meaning to be really appreciated by the American people, they have to listen to stories where [soldiers] gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
The American flag also has an important meaning, according to Centracchio.
“It’s representative of the country itself,” he said, also describing it as a “sacred symbol” for veterans in particular. “It represents who we are.”
When asked what Veterans Day means to him, Centracchio said it’s personal.
“We have a very fragile society,” Centracchio said. “We need to pay attention to what is going on in regards to depending upon our veterans.”
“We also need to understand that there are young kids prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect all of the freedoms we enjoy,” he continued.
Centracchio, who enlisted in the R.I. National Guard when he was 17 years old, told 12 News that being a veteran is part of who he is. He said that, if given the chance, he’d serve all over again.
“I would do it tomorrow,” Centracchio said. “If I wasn’t 83 years old, I would be back in my uniform tomorrow and would do the same thing I did for a span of 48 years. I think my attitude is certainly reflective of those in uniform today.”