The poignant moment Tom Hanks comforts war veteran

March 12, 2010


 

For one old soldier the moment was simply too much to bear.

Confronted by memories of long-gone battles and standing with the Hollywood star who had made sure distant sacrifices were not forgotten, Pasquala Cassetta was overcome.

He twisted his face away and grasped the arm of Tom Hanks, too emotional to speak.

The actor himself seemed moved, clasping Mr Cassetta, a World War Two marine, and cradling the man's face with one hand.

The soldier, from Long Island, New York, is one of the marines who inspired new 10-part HBO series, The Pacific, which Hanks executive produced along with Steven Spielberg.

A follow up to the 2001 hit series Band of Brothers, it charts the lives of US Marines fighting the Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbour.

Spielberg said they had made wanted to make sure the Pacific theatre was also remembered.

'We did it because all of you are the greatest stories ever told,' he told veterans '... with each passing generation, more and more people are forgetting about World War Two.'

The ceremony, at the World War Two Memorial in Washington, was organised by HBO to mark the premiere of the $200million new series.

Both Hanks and Spielberg addressed the audience, spent time with veterans and laid wreaths.

Hanks used his address to stress that no ordinary American wanted to go to war - but that the sacrifices made in World War Two had changed the world.

'You defined peace with these four words: The Americans are here,' he said.

Fred Rose, 87, of Barberton, Ohio, served in an amphibious tank battalion in the Marshall Islands and Saipan.

Rose says he nearly cried hearing accolades from Spielberg, Hanks and others.

He described how his tank had been sunk in the first wave of an attack.

'My buddies got killed,' he said. 'But I got out. I don't know how... I must have had a guardian angel.'

Hanks was one of the high-profile supporters who raised money to build the memorial on the National Mall ten years ago. It was finally opened in 2004.

Source : Daily Mail