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Costa Beavin-Pappas, for Dana Point Times
As a World War II veteran, Martin Fesser has survived bombings, had close calls with snipers and has overcome life-threatening moments with leadership and courage.
On Friday, May 29, after a lifetime of fighting a war and living through notable moments of American history, Martin celebrated his 95th birthday with a socially distanced, drive-by celebration. The Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 9934, of Dana Point, coordinated for law enforcement, firefighters, fellow veterans, family and friends to drive by his home to wish him a happy birthday.
In an interview with Dana Point Times, Martin’s son, Gary, shared stories of his father’s life and the ways he gave back to his community. Martin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., before joining the military. At age 18, he was sent to Germany to fight in World War II.
Gary recounts a time after World War II in which his father was asked to stay in Germany with occupied forces a year after the war had ended.
“He had a unique experience, because he was in Germany after the war and saw the lives of the people after,” Gary said. “He got to talk to these people about this ordeal and saw things from a new perspective.”
Though Martin was young at the time of World War II, the perspectives he gained shaped who he is today. Gary says that his father continues to show empathy and compassion to everyone.
“I have never seen a human being who treated others with such respect more than he has,” Gary said. “He always has.”
Many things have changed over the course of Martin’s life, as he has witnessed changes and the evolution of technology, Gary said. Of the changes, Martin still does not have an email, but he seems OK with it.
In terms of politics, many things have changed for Martin. Gary says that in today’s political climate, he believes that he knows where his father stands on the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.
“I think, to be honest, my dad would say that everyone should be out there on the street and kneeling for another American who lost his life,” he said. “Everyone . . . the President included.”
Regardless of who is voted into the White House, Martin has a love for his country and all of its citizens. In 1995, he was even awarded the Bronze Star Medal by former President Bill Clinton. The Bronze Star is awarded to members of the U.S Armed Services for heroic or meritorious service or achievement in a combat zone.
Today, Martin lives with his son and best friend in Dana Point. Through all of the changes, one thing that remains a constant in Martin’s life is his love for America.