April 25 – Liberation Day


New residents of Italy, Don and I were curious to learn about the national holiday Liberation Day.

So we persuaded Maria Zaccharia, our Italian language tutor, and her friend Roberto to go with us to the city of Monopoli’s commemoration of the end of World War II. By American standards, it wasn’t much, even for a small town. No soldiers on horses, no marching band, no beauty pageants, no concessions with so much as a beer.

A fresh wreath hung on the wall by City Hall declaring that the city of Monopoli “ni sua caduti” – honors the fallen. A trumpeter blew a dirge, a boombox blared marching music and we few residents who came out on a cloudy morning fell in line behind a group of men in military dress. At the local WWII memorial, two men hung another wreath. They saluted, the trumpeter blew and we moved on to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, Monopoli’s main square.

Surely here, where crowds swell to the hundreds on any Sunday morning, I thought, the good citizens of Monopoli will appear. No, Maria told me sadly, southern Italians don’t really care much about the war.

So they hung a final wreath, gave a final salute and played a final dirge. The little band of followers left. So did we. War doesn’t garner glory here – an unusual message to two Americans.

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