The Rifle


The Rifle

Author: Andrew Biggio

The Rifle takes you on a journey. The journeys host, our author, is Andrew Biggio, a US Marine and veteran from Afghanistan and Iraq. A veteran who came home from combat with questions. Questions about the price of war. But learning the answer needed the assistance of those who came home from one of the greatest wars, World War 2.  Andrew also saw a need, an urgency to honour these men from World War 2. How he went about it, was not only respectful but unique too.

It came about due to his purchase of a 1945 M1 Garand Rifle, one of the most common for WWII. He’d purchased it as a mark of respect to his great uncle who fought.  When he showed his neighbour, a WW2 veteran, the rifle, memories were unlocked. Memories that had not seen the light of day for over 50 years. Andrew asked his neighbour to sign the rifle and as the old saying goes, the rest is history.

Andrew spent 2 years travelling America to place the rifle in the hands of the last living WW2 veterans. He noted during his visits that when those veterans held the rifle, memories were triggered, and stories came to the forefront. Some that hadn’t been heard of for many years, or even at all. Andrew continued his visits and added signatures to the rifle as well as listening with a deep respect to their stories.

But what to do with these stories? What better way to honour these men than to share their stories. The Rifle is that collection of our veterans’ stories from their varying campaigns, but they are more than that. They are gut-renching memories of trauma and conflict. They are memories for some of shame, of survivor’s guilt. For some, they are memories of the camaraderie that worked to bring them home.

The journey to collect these stories was done very respectfully. It was all about the veteran’s comfort. Andrew ventured to living rooms, restaurants, bars and any place that the veteran he was meeting felt safe and appropriate. That respect is evident between the pages. The book allows the reader to feel as if they are sitting next to the author, part of the same conversation.  It invites us in on some of the most personal memories of the veterans. That’s a talent in itself.

One of the greatest gifts that this book also gives is life lessons.  To use the authors own words…

On my mission to hear these soldiers’ stories, I was able to say goodbye to some of America’s last veterans of World War II. They passed on some of life’s most important lessons to me.

“They taught me that there is life after war. They showed me how to be a survivor, not a victim. They encouraged me to find something after the military to keep myself occupied. They told me not to dwell on things that can’t be changed. And they drilled it in me that veterans owe it to the men who didn’t come home to carry on with integrity, even when times get tough – and to live a good life, have a family, another career, and a purpose.”