World War II veteran John Baccarella was honored by Bayonne first responders for his 100th birthday, with the police and fire departments, as well McCabe Ambulance Services, driving past his home with sirens blaring to mark the occasion.
Baccarella is celebrating his centennial today and has been able to spend with weekend with friends and family, with his daughters organizing a party at Villa Maria on Friday, the tribute from first responders on Saturday morning, and then a Father’s Day dinner tonight.
“Oh my God: that took a piece of my heart away. They were absolutely beautiful, I enjoyed every minute of it. Oh my God, that is something I never, never expected … Not in a 100 years would I believe something like that [would happen].
Also a local politico, claiming that he’s been involved with every Bayonne mayoral campaign since he came back home from the service, Baccarella stated his greatest accomplishment is his two daughters and that he feels blessed to live long enough to meet his four grandchildren.
He added that he feels veterans deserve better benefits, specifically those that need full-time aides or nurses, and while he feels President Joe Biden (D) has largely done a good job on that front, political leaders aren’t what they used to be.
“We were all there for one reason: to fight democracy. Any other garbage going on with all these politicians, concentrate on democracy, not Hitler-ism. This is what it is. Where are the good leaders any more, where are they?”
When asked if he had any closing thoughts, Baccarella said the best piece of advice he could give is to always remind your loved ones about how you feel.
“Say to them, more often, that I love you. That’s three beautiful words that kept me going. ‘I love you’ and that’s the way I feel about most people that I’ve dealt with that were always there to help me and me help them.”
Baccarella was the former standard bearer of the Sons of Italy, Dominic Del Monte Lodge 2560, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bayonne Initiative in 2017.
While he considers himself a jazz fan, he noted that his favorite singer is Frank Sinatra. Baccarella was still able to belt out some tunes of his own at Friday’s party and didn’t need any help remembering the lyrics, family members said.