Back in 1937, Aida Garaffa and Gerald “Jerry” Bonsonto lived across the street from each other. Eventually, the man Aida described as not “a big fellow” but “handsome” worked up the nerve to ask her out, and the two fell in love.
Then in 1942, Jerry was drafted to fight in World War II, and they got engaged right before he was sent off. The soldier was stationed all over the world but was critically wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. They weren’t sure he would survive, but luckily, he pulled through! Before being discharged from the service, he sent Aida a gift in two boxes: the fabric from a parachute.
Fabric was hard to come by at the time because of rationing during the war, so Aida was thrilled to receive it — especially since her wedding was rapidly approaching!
She gathered it up and took it to a seamstress, who not only made the bride a gorgeous long-sleeved dress, but also crafted her bridesmaids’ dresses as well. Aida wore the special gown when she and Jerry finally came together for the rest of their lives, and she looked radiant!
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And that wasn’t the only unique gift Jerry gave her! While he was stationed in Normandy, he had a nightgown handmade for Aida using a parachute. According to her, it had her name stitched into the fabric and cost Jerry just two packs of cigarettes.
The lovebirds lived happily together until Jerry passed away in 1980. After some time, Aida decided she wanted to honor his memory by lending her dress to a museum.
According to John Aarsen, the director for the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum, many people made wedding dresses out of parachutes back then, but there aren’t many to display. That makes Aida’s gown even more precious!
She was excited to lend her dress out, and Brig. Gen. Kris A. Belanger came to her house to pick up and transport the precious cargo to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where it remains today.
“It was an honor they trusted me to take a historic family heirloom and then display it for all to see,” Belanger said. “It is really incredible.”
Now, her gorgeous dress is teaching countless people a valuable history lesson — and telling a sweet love story for the ages. We’re so glad she decided to show it off to the world!
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