World War II veterans shocked and angry at Capitol mob, and Trump's role

Nancy Cutler
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

They fought fascism and saved democracy in World War II. This month, three Greatest Generation veterans looked on in shock, dismay and anger as they watched a mob descend on the U.S. Capitol and threaten all they fought for.

“That’s stupid and idiotic,” said Armando “Chick” Galella, a 100-year-old survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor. “They should all go to jail.” 

Alan Moskin was just 18 when he helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp. Now 94, the Nanuet resident said what he saw happening in the Capitol on Jan. 6 shocked him. 

“We fought to get rid of all that garbage,” Moskin said. “We thought we would never see that again.”

WWII veteran Alan Moskin at his Nanuet home Jan. 13, 2021.

Around 325,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II survive, according to the National World War II Museum. More than 405,000 American troops were killed during World War II.

"Those poor guys are turning in their graves," Galella said.

The mob that invaded the Capitol included active military and veterans, according to news reports.

“It breaks my heart,” Moskin said of veterans' involvement. “I wish more people would think about the country instead of the party.”

Days after the Jan. 6 attack, the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement calling the Capitol invasion sedition and an insurrection.

Bernard Bernstein at the Tappan Zee Manor assisted living facility in Nyack Jan. 12, 2021.

Bernard Bernstein served in North Africa and Italy. He was on his way to the Philippines when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The 100-year-old Nyacker was no fan of Trump’s way before 2016. 

Bernstein found it unsettling that U.S. politics had become so much about a cult of personality. Other countries fall under the spell of tyrants, Bernstein said, but not America. “It’s happened to us in our time.”

Galella had supported Trump in 2016 and again in 2020. But no more.

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WW II veteran Armando "Chick" Galella, who turned 100 Jan. 2, was a big supporter of President Trump in both elections but not anymore. He described the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol as the most disturbing thing to happen in Washington in his lifetime at his home in Sleepy Hollow Jan. 13, 2021.

“I don’t know what happened to Trump. I voted for Trump, yes I did, but I wouldn’t vote for him again,” said Galella, who says he’s “a big Republican” with many friends across the aisle. 

“I’m so annoyed, I’m so disappointed in Trump,” Galella said, pinning the Jan. 6 attacks on the president’s actions. “If you lose you lose, turn the page. He didn’t do the right thing.” 

Moskin, a retired lawyer who describes himself as an independent Democrat, said Trump’s words laid the groundwork. “When you start a fire, you don’t know how far it’s going to go.”

Moskin said those who went into the Capitol “absolutely” should be prosecuted.

“That was a mob. That wasn’t just people objecting,” Moskin said. “They looked to me if they had grabbed some of the Congress people, who knows what would have happened. That was an insurrection. When a mob goes crazy like that, bad things happen and unfortunately people died.”

Moskin said the House's impeachment of Trump was appropriate. "I would have hoped that he would have resigned but he’s not going to do that, obviously.”

Moskin, Bernstein and Galella each called out racism among the ranks that they saw marauding through the Capitol Building as Congress was in session. 

WW II veteran Armando "Chick" Galella, who turned 100 Jan. 2, was a big supporter of President Trump in both elections but not anymore. He described the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol as the most disturbing thing to happen in Washington in his lifetime at his home in Sleepy Hollow Jan. 13, 2021.

“When I saw the Confederate flag, what's that supposed to prove?” Moskin said.

Moskin said he was alarmed by growing racial tensions in the county. When he was in boot camp in the South, Moskin said his fellow soldiers saw a picture of his high school basketball team — three white players, including him, and three Black players. He was called slurs for Jews and heard vile language used about Black Americans.

The symbols on T-shirts and flags displayed by the Capitol mob, he said, “shows you they still had that hate.”

Tappan Zee Manor Executive Director Kim Furphy with resident Bernard Bernstein at the assisted living facility in Nyack Jan. 12, 2021.

Bernstein had a similar takeaway. “You see the racism, you see the hatred from one to (the other),” he said at Tappan Zee Manor, the assisted living facility where he resides. He called the sight "unbearable."

For these men who served in World War II, the actions at the Capitol were a betrayal.

“You got a right to protest,” Galella said with his voice rising. “But you got no right to destroy.”

Nancy Cutler writes about People & Policy. Click here for her latest stories. Follow her on Twitter at @nancyrockland