01 June 2006

Memorial Day in Nettuno

On Monday we went to the American War Cemetery in Nettuno which is the final resting place for many from the Sicily and Rome campaigns of World War II. The Allies initially landed at Salerno near Naples after liberating Sicily but came to a standstill at the German Gustav line north of Naples and a beachhead invasion was planned at Anzio to outflank the Germans and push to Rome. On January 22 1944 at 2:00 AM British forces landed near our current residence north of Anzio and American forces landed near Nettuno to the east. These landing were met by fierce resistance, major German reinforcements and three major German counter offenses but eventually broke through to liberate Rome on June 4.The ceremony at the cemetery was a combined US and Italian affair with the new US Ambassador to Italy, Ronald Spogli, and the Italian Defense Minister giving speeches on the valor of those interned here as well as the importance of US and Italian friendship. This was followed by a 21 gun salute, Air Force fly-over and taps. There were sharply dressed military personnel from both countries standing smartly at attention during the entire 45 minute ceremony.

This cemetery is a beautiful monument to those who gave their lives in the liberation of Italy with wide green lawns, magnificent trees, marble columns and perfectly aligned grave markers. Each marker is carved white marble with the name, rank, unit, state and date of death and is either a Cross or a Star of David.

A friend of Valerie’s uncle who we met in St. Louis on our move from New Mexico to Ohio in March asked us if we would look for markers for friends of his father who had been involved in the landing at Nettuno. At the cemetery office they were kind enough to print out the location for each name we had that was interned here and we easily located each marker and photographed them to email to our new acquaintance in St. Louis.

This visit to the military cemetery was even more meaningful for us during the previous week while we were getting gelato in the Anzio centro we met a British veteran who was involved in the landings at Anzio and he told us of some of his experiences. He was also on the bus back to our home and pointed out some of the area he remembered from over 60 years ago when many of his comrades made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Brian!
Ruben decided to step down from his current role and fill the spot that was left as a result of your move. That prompted me to pull up your blog and see how you are doing. It looks like so far so good after a few minor bumps in the road.
As I said before you left, you're living not only your dream, but a dream that many share but don't have the courage or opportunity to undertake. Enjoy every second of it. I hope you keep providing updates so we can live vicariously through you and your wife's adventure.
Lemon trees in your backyard and thirty five miles from Rome is not a bad start.
Todd Wiley