Thought everyone would like to know that they are finally planning a 60th Commemorative Celebration in Italy next year. Guess there was nothing planned until the Pelham American Legion Post 50 got involved. So hats off to them. smile.gif Here's the lo-down:
Pelham American Legion Post 50 Initiates
of World War II 60th Anniversary Ceremonies in Italy
Former Sen. McGovern, Ambassador Boggs Plan to Participate
Pelham, NY, November 9, 2004 – One of the most important yet often overlooked campaigns in World War II will be recognized in May 2005 when ceremonies will be held to honor the sacrifices made by the forces of freedom in the Battle for Italy. The ceremonies have been initiated by American Legion Post 50 from Pelham, NY, which features several veterans of this conflict.
Post 50, together with fellow organizations of the American Legion, plan to conduct memorial ceremonies on the 60th anniversary day of the surrender of German forces to American and Allied forces on Monday May 2 at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial which is located in Nettuno, a short drive south of Rome. On Thursday May 5, a wreath laying ceremony will be held at the Florence American Cemetery located near Florence, Italy. At the Nettuno cemetery, 7,861 Americans are buried and 3,095 American military personnel who are “Missing in Action” are memorialized. At Florence, 4,402 Americans are buried and 1,409 “MIAs” are listed on a memorial. The ceremonies will be an opportunity for those lost 60 years ago to be remembered in the presence of WWII veterans and their families.
“It is sad that, even on Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, some Americans take for granted the sacrifices that have been made to provide the freedom and rights enjoyed by all Americans,” said Post 50 Commander Michael Barrett. “The United States is a nation where its citizens unite and fight for what is right and just. A mere 60 years ago, the very existence of our country was at stake, and the men and women of our land willingly chose to defend this nation and the rights we have, even at the risk of losing their lives. Their sacrifice for the common good should never be forgotten and Post 50 is honored to initiate the commemoration of these efforts in the Italian campaign of World War II. This may be one of the last opportunities for these patriots to honor their fallen fellow Americans and for those of us who have been born in the last 60 years to honor them all. We are humbled by the chance to offer our personal thanks for their efforts to keep freedom alive in the world.”
Surprisingly, until Post 50 decided to put together this memorial program, no ceremonies had been planned to recognize this important contribution to the Allied triumph in WWII. Members of Post 50 were moved when watching the ceremonies honoring the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion in June. They wondered what recognition would be planned for the Italian fight, but were told by the WWII 60th Anniversary Commission in Washington that no ceremonies were planned due to resource limitations.
Taking the initiative, Post 50 drafted a resolution requesting approval to organize an anniversary ceremony in Italy and has presented this to American Legion leadership on the county, state and national level. To date approval has been received from the county and state level and a “Favorable” response was received from the National Executive Committee.
Post 50 was also informed by the WWII 60th Anniversary Committee that the proposal had generated interest within the leadership of the U.S. military and the Federal government and each could be expected to send senior (-more-)
American Legion Post 50 Leads National Commemoration…, page 2
level representation to the ceremonies. Former Sen. George McGovern, a WWII veteran, and former Vatican Ambassador Lindy Boggs have already expressed interest in participating.
The Battle for Italy began on September 3, 1943 with an amphibious landing by Allied forces on the southernmost tip of the country and continued until May 2, 1945, the final week of the war. The 602-day campaign was the longest of any conducted by the US military during WWII and claimed the lives of over 19,000 American service men and women. Beyond those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Italy, thousands more were injured, including future United States Senators Robert Dole and Daniel Inouye. The Italian campaign was crucial to the defeat of Nazi Germany, providing an assault that diverted important military resources away from the defense of France and liberated the Nazi’s closest ally. In 1994, memorial ceremonies were held at Nettuno on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of Rome. On that occasion the ceremony was led by then President Clinton and four US Senators who had served in Italy during WWII.
Residents of Pelham who are memorialized at Nettuno include Capt. Kendall K. Fish US Army Air Force who died on April 24, 1945. At the Florence Memorial, Flight Officer Bertley H. Moberg US Army Air Forces who died on March 14, 1945 and First Lieutenant Ellsworth Totten III US Army Air Forces who died on Dec. 23, 1944 are both listed. These two sites along with other overseas military cemeteries run by the American Battle Monuments Commission are sacred places for all Americans to remember.
To help veterans and their families participate in the ceremonies in Italy, travel plans are being coordinated by two tour companies. Both tours offer participation in an opening reception, transportation to both of the ceremonies, and a variety of sightseeing opportunities. Information is available by contacting Andy Ambrose of Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours at 1-888-903-3329 (which will provide a historic military perspective) or Harriet Balter of Rich Worldwide Travel at 1-914-835-7600 x134 or 1-800-431-1130 (which will provide a tour highlighting Italian culture and history).
The American Legion is the world’s largest Veteran’s Association with nearly three million members. American Legion Post 50, which actively supports current military personnel serving overseas, is commanded in 2004-2005 by Michael Barrett and has over 160 members. Post 50 plans and conducts the Town of Pelham’s annual Memorial Day Parade and Veteran’s Day Ceremony commemorating the 83 residents lost in military service during four wars of the 20th Century. Members of the Post are active in entertaining veterans being cared for in Veterans Administration facilities and supporting youth programs such as Boy’s State.
For additional participant information, contact Kenneth G. Kraetzer, Jr. at (914) 381-5353 or by e-mail at (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please direct media inquiries to John Chuhran at (914) 235-5523 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
60th Anniversary Italian Campaign
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