Louis Graziano 1

Thomson celebrates war hero’s 100th birthday

(Featured image courtesy Anne Bowman, Fort Gordon public affairs)

Well-wishers greet Luciano “Louis” Charles Graziano on Feb. 4. The World War II veteran turns 100 on Feb. 6. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

THOMSON —A parade and reception honored a hometown celebrity and national hero Feb. 4 as Thomson celebrated Louis Graziano’s 100th birthday at the Thomson-McDuffie County Library.

“It’s great to have so many people here,” said the World War II veteran who took photos with those attending, shook hands and collected birthday cards.

His daughter, Kim Evans, spearheaded a call for birthday greetings, and people listened.  Cards have come in from all across the country and world.

“They’ve come in by the pound,” said Terry Evans, Kim’s husband.

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Last year, he received about 2,000 cards, and they are hoping for 5,000 this year.

And Kim Evans said he won’t move from his chair until he’s read every greeting he’s received.

Well-wishers greet Luciano “Louis” Charles Graziano on Feb. 4. The World War II veteran turns 100 on Feb. 6. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

Graziano’s birthday is Feb. 6.

 Born in New York in 1923 to Italian immigrants who came to the United States via Ellis Island, Luciano “Louis” Charles Graziano was cutting and styling hair when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. Graziano answered Uncle Sam’s call in 1943.

During his service, he was part of the landing on Omaha Beach with the third wave on D-Day and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He’s the last living witness to the Germans’ signing of the instrument of surrender at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Reims, France in May 1945.

His family didn’t know much about his World War II service until his daughter, Kim Evans, noticed a box of notes her father had kept over the years. Those notes became a book, A Patriot’s Memoirs of World War II: Through My Eyes, Heart and Soul, published in 2018.

Terry Evans said his father-in-law still doesn’t open up much about his service unless he’s around other veterans. He’s learned more at book signings and other events Graziano has been asked to speak at.

Graziano was invited to the 75th anniversary of Normandy, but Evans said he declined. Evans said Graziano just didn’t want to go back there.

Louis Graziano with Col. Reggie Evans, Fort Gordon garrison commander. Photo credit Anne Bowman, Fort Gordon Public Affairs

 Saturday’s program included greetings from dignitaries such as Col. Reggie Evans, Fort Gordon’s garrison commander, who said he was honored to attend the event.

“What a journey! From New York to Camp Hood to the battlefields of Europe and back again. In preparing for today, I’ve read so much about you – and I’m humbled to be standing here with you today. I saw a video clip where you said you believed God was with you on Omaha beach – I believe this too,” said Evans during his speech. “And that you were intended to see your men through that conflict. He endowed you with a destiny and some pretty amazing hand, a gift from our creator that you have given so much with.”

To send birthday greetings, mail them to 238 W. Hill St., Thomson, GA 30824. 

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at charmain@augustagoodnews.com. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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