Memorial Day 2006
We took the bus to Nettuno and walked the short distance to the Sicily-Rome American Cemetary. It was Memorial Day and we thought it would be a good way to commemorate the day. We were also on an errand. An acquaintance in St. Louis told us that his father had been a soldier who participated in the Allied landing at Anzio during World War II. His dad had wanted to come to Italy to see the graves of his friends who had been killed here, but had not done so and was now too frail to make the trip. Would we look for the graves and take photos, he asked us. Of course!
List in hand, we entered the cemetery to find a large continent of carabinieri milling about. There was a tent set up near the memorial at the far end of the cemetery. We inquired in the office about the day’s activities and were told that the U.S. Ambassador as well as an Italian government official would be attending a ceremony. The superintendent took our list and looked up the names in the computer, printing out the details of the grave marker locations for us. He also offered to have photos taken that he would then email to our friend. “You can take photos, but the names get a little too washed out,” he said. “When we take the photos, we have special way to darken the names so they appear better.” What a nice touch.
We walked to the memorial area to listen to the speakers and participate in the ceremony. Italian and American servicemen stood in formation side by side. I teared up; I get so emotional at these kinds of events. The combination of the national anthem, an echoing, soulful trumpeting of Taps, a 21-gun salute and a fighter jet fly-over in the missing man formation pretty much did me in and I had to fight back a full-on cry. Maybe it’s just hormones, but I doubt it. I have a great appreciation for these men who fought bravely and gravely for a definite cause, and who are still very much appreciated by the local population.
We toured solemnly around the cemetery to locate the graves on the list and took photos, then returned the list to the superintendent with our thanks for his generosity to send email photos to this now-elderly soldier whom I’ve never met, but am grateful to…for his service to our country and to this country, and because his errand had brought us here on this particular day. It was a touching experience.
copyright 2006 Valerie Schneider