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White Plains Serviceman Reflects on Afghanistan

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - How did serviceman Robert Zaccaria celebrate Veteran’s Day  this year? For the U.S. Army member, his plan was simple: enjoy the comforts of being home, go into town for a celebratory drink and grab a free meal at his local Applebee’s.

"All veterans eat for free today," he joked, fully clad in his military fatigues. He also planned to catch up with the older veterans who inspired him to join the service three years ago.

“I want to talk to the World War II veterans that I know. They have made a big impact on me,” said the White Plains High School graduate. “I now understand what they’ve been through.”

For Zaccaria, Veteran’s Day this year happened to coincide with his period of transition. Having recently finished up a year-long stint in Afghanistan as a member of his Colonel's personal security, he will soon train at New York's Fort Drum Army base to be part of its infantry. His new position will allow him to join the front line.

It should come as no surprise that his daily tasks in Afghanistan, which included clearing roadside bombs with the rest of his battalion, reminded him to appreciate the basic amenities most Americans take for granted.

“They don’t have laundry inside their houses. They are scrubbing clothes in rivers,” he added of the country’s natives. “It really opened my eyes to see how good we have it in America.”

Zaccaria later said he felt the U.S. Army to be making a positive change on the culture in Afghanistan. “It’s a third-world country over there. We’re helping kids and giving them food, water and building up their armies and police force.”

It clear that Zaccaria’s enthusiasm for serving his country is contagious.

After he joined, his cousin and two best friends followed suit by doing the same. "I want to stay part of the Army to be a role model for my friends and family,” he added.

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