BROOKFIELD, Conn. -- Firefighters, foundations and friends crowded around 97-year-old World War II veteran Lou Russo’s house Wednesday to personalize Veterans' Day in a special way.
Representatives from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and Home Depot’s “Celebration of Service” program joined politicians and a crew of journalists on specially-built stages in the backyard of Russo’s wooded home to announce their support for his story.
Russo, who joined the U.S. Army in 1941 and served more than three years in the South Pacific, had been an independent man all his life until he fell two years ago at 95 and found himself under the care of a court-ordered conservator, who put him in a nursing home..
A former U.S. Marine from Bethel named Dan Gaita took on Russo’s cause, becoming his advocate and winning battles that eventually brought Russo to his home last Thanksgiving. Along the way, scores of volunteers joined the fight to return Russo to independence and became part of the story.
The latest friends to contribute are from the Home Depot Foundation, which donated $20,000 worth home siding and landscaping for Russo’s home. Among the improvements to his home is a plaque in memory of his brother, Anthony, who died during the 1944 invasion of Normandy.
“I humbly accept everything everybody has done for me on behalf of my brother,” said a teary-eyed Russo at the ceremony.