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Tales of American combat and comradery in World War II all connected to the iconic rifle of the era, the M1 Garand. An award-winning author puts one such rifle into the hands of a series of vets, records their stories, and gathers their signatures on the rifle, in a pilgrimage and homage to heroism.
It all started because of a rifle.
The Rifle is an inspirational story and hero’s journey of a 28-year-old U.S. Marine, Andrew Biggio, who returned home from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, full of questions about the price of war. He found answers from those who survived the costliest war of all -- WWII veterans.
It began when Biggio bought a 1945 M1 Garand Rifle, the most common rifle used in WWII, to honor his great uncle, a U.S. Army soldier who died on the hills of the Italian countryside. When Biggio showed the gun to his neighbor, WWII veteran Corporal Joseph Drago, it unlocked memories Drago had kept unspoken for 50 years. On the spur of the moment, Biggio asked Drago to sign the rifle. Thus began this Marine’s mission to find as many WWII veterans as he could, get their signatures on the rifle, and document their stories.
For two years, Biggio traveled across the country to interview America’s last-living WWII veterans. Each time he put the M1 Garand Rifle in their hands, their eyes lit up with memories triggered by holding the weapon that had been with them every step of the war. With each visit and every story told to Biggio, the veterans signed their names to the rifle. 96 signatures now cover that rifle, each a reminder of the price of war and the courage of our soldiers.
About the Author
Andrew Biggio, a former U.S. Marine Corps infantry sergeant, is a member of the police force in Boston. A veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, he is the president of the nonprofit support organization New England’s Wounded Veterans, Inc. He earned a master’s degree in homeland security at Northeastern University.