The following post was recently published in the Winter/Spring issue of Connecticut Food News.
Decades later his memories of war are still vivid. In a presentation to an engaged audience at the American Legion in Middletown, John D’Aquila, a resident of Long Island, told stories of his experiences as a medic in the European theater during World War II.
He spoke compassionately about entering the Mauthausen concentration camp and encountering people who were skeletal from starvation and pleading for food. His unit immediately set up a soup kitchen to provide nourishment to the survivors. “My war experience has given me a purpose, empathy, and an understanding of what is going on even today,” John told the audience.
John, an attorney, has written a play, “From the Fires,” for 8th and 9th graders to help them understand the consequences of cruelty. The play has been performed over 1,000 times at schools and for youth groups.
But the real purpose of the event was for John to announce his financial gifts to the Middletown community where he grew up. Connecticut Food Bank is one of the organizations he decided to support.
John was inspired by a planned gift made by his late great-nephew, William D’Aquila, to Connecticut Food Bank. William had named the Food Bank as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy valued at over $60,000.
John has established a charitable gift annuity at the Middlesex Community Foundation that will provide an annual income stream for him and his wife as long as they live. Eventually this planned gift, named the William D’Aquila Memorial Fund, will provide income to Connecticut Food Bank. John enlisted in the Army as a young man to serve his country. Now, at age 90, he has found a way to continue to serve with his generous support to organizations that serve the community.