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Name Mosquito park for a real American

DEAR EDITOR:

In response to Rep. Mike Loychik’s proposal to rename Mosquito Lake State Park for a certain former White House occupant, I propose renaming it for an actual American hero.

My grandfather Augustine J. Iacconi served this nation with honor and integrity. He fought in World War II, primarily at Bastogne, where he was wounded and received a Purple Heart. He lost a brother, Frank, to combat on D-Day. Another brother, who I always knew as “Uncle Tooty,” suffered such severe PTSD that he was never the same after the war. Grandpa also was with the Allied Forces that liberated the concentration camp at Buchenwald. Shortly before he died in 1997, he told my mom of the horrors he saw there that day, horrors brought about by fascism, demagoguery and nativist, xenophobic hate. Those same values were espoused by Mr. Loychik’s hero.

At Grandpa’s funeral, the flag from his casket was handed directly to me, at my grandma’s insistence. It sits in a place of honor in my home. The former president’s loyalists think flag means love America as it is or leave it. I say that flag represents a solemn, sacred responsibility to pursue the loftiest ideals of our forefathers, for which countless men and women have fought and died. Men like my grandpa defended the inalienable God-given rights of all human beings to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He never once raised his voice against his fellow American or incited others to betray this country, as those on Jan. 6.

As I formerly worked in Trumbull County, I think that gives my grandpa more of a connection to Mosquito Lake State Park than the person Mr. Loychik wishes to honor. Furthermore, in this nation we do not rename parks for those who sow seeds of hatred to achieve their selfish ends. We name them for ordinary citizens who stand up in our darkest hours and show the world what the American spirit really is; people who rise above their own human flaws to answer the call of duty to their nation and fellow man, and by their example call upon all of us to do the same.

My grandpa never occupied the White House, but he fought to ensure that only the American flag would ever fly above it. He’s far more deserving of a state park than some failed politician. I hope the Ohio General Assembly will either leave Mosquito’s name alone or — if it must be renamed — name it for a real American.

DAN POMPILI

Youngstown

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