Antoine Accristo
Immigrant Patriot

 We live in a country where the ideals that made America great have disappeared.
We see people  publicly criticizing  the traditions of America,  disrespecting the armed forces and even burning the American flag. The many positive factors such as courage, loyalty, respect, courtesy, truth, hard work, and spiritual strength are looked upon as faults and not pillars which made this country great. Out of the discouragement of the times in America, there are things that remind us about our strengths, and commitment to freedom. One positive light in this vast darkness is the story of Antoine Accristo.

 Mr. Accristo’s life is an inspiration and monument to the struggles and triumph of the human spirit. His life story is published in a book called “Little Tony.” Little Tony grew up in southern France in a large family. They had to exist in extreme poverty and despair while World War II engulfed Europe. As the war escalated, France as other European, countries found themselves occupied by the Nazi forces.   

  Little Tony describes the brutality of the Nazi soldiers toward the civilians. The extreme conditions of poverty as well as the harshness of war,  tested the extremes of the human spirit for survival. Little Tony found himself at times questioning many basic principles of life and the will to survive. He soon recognized and idealized the American Forces as they gradually pushed back the Nazis, freeing his country from German oppression. He loved the American Forces and hung around them as much as possible. He soon had the beginning of a dream to come to America. America, the land of freedom and opportunity, became the focus of his life. He befriended an American soldier, Nicholas J. Botera, who wanted to bring him back to America. Little Tony was only fourteen years old. He wasn’t allowed on the troop ship returning to America so he sneaked onto the ship as a stowaway. He was discovered half way across the Atlantic and detained but not sent back to France. He spent months at Immigration in Boston. 

Finally, his dream was coming true. He was sponsored and allowed to stay in America. He learned the english language, went to school and got a job. Little Tony was so thankful to be in America that he cherished every moment. He wanted to be an American and give back to this great country. He also never forgot his love for the American troops that liberated France from the brutality of Nazi Germany. He had experienced the extremes of man’s inhumanity toward man as well as the ravages of war.

Little Tony felt so proud to be a part of this great country that he had admired for so many years. He enlisted in the United States Air Force and was stationed in the Phillippines and Japan as well as in the combat theater of Korea.

  One night in Korea he was attacked by an infiltrator and wounded. He returned from Korea and got his American citizenship. He got married and went back to school under the GI Bill. He started a business. He describes in his book the trials and tribulations of being successful in business as well as trying to help his family members in France. The one thing that stands out with Little Tony was his unwavering determination to succeed and never give up. Faced with numerous challenges, and obstacles, Little Tony always continued to fight for success. Marital stresses mounted during these struggling years which ultimately led to divorce and termination of his marriage.
  Little Tony later remarried. He loved the American West so soon after retiring in the early 90s, he moved his family from Pennsylvania to Helena, Montana. He built a home and settled into a calmer lifestyle enjoying the beauty of Montana with the great hunting and fishing. He has been volunteering at the Fort Harrison VA Medical Center in Helena for the past ten years.
The story of Antoine Accristo is important reading for several reasons. First, it describes the many trials and tribulations of a young man under the most extreme conditions to survive. The rebounding of the human spirit from many obstacles reflects how determination and hard work will lead to the accomplishment of one’s goals. Second, it shows the emotional and physical stresses of being occupied by an enemy that has no regard for human life. As a young boy, living under the strict rules of Nazi occupation, the effect of liberation by the American forces is told.   

  In today’s news media, we  frequently see negative things about the American forces. Little Tony’s life shows the appreciation of our troops,  as a citizen of a country occupied by a foreign enemy. The book tells what a citizen of that country felt when the American forces came and drove out the Nazi forces. These sorts of things need to be told by the victims of an occupied country freed by American liberation. Third, and probably the most important reason for reading this book  is the appreciation for all that is offered in America.

  It drives home the idea that we need to be appreciative of the opportunities, 
freedoms, and happiness present in this great country. We can sit around and complain about things only because we have not been without things. When you have to worry about finding the next morsel of food to keep from starving or clothing, and shelter, then it puts into prospective just how much we have in America. “Little Tony” also drives home the idea that an immigrant who goes through the proper channels to be an American citizen will have the many opportunities available in this great country. This doesn’t mean what is going to be given to you, but what hard work, determination and perseverance will give one who is willing to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Little Tony” is one of those books that once you start reading it, you can’t put it down. It is an incredible story of an incredible journey.

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Rick Mowles

“Little Tony,”
A Story of Hope & Freedom

Rick Mowles
Rick Mowles
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