Perhaps the most moving part of our trip to Italy was our visit to the American Cemetery and Monument near Florence. Of the 4402 soldiers buried there, 355 were in the 10th Mountain Division. To say these numbers means little until you can walk between the grave markers and really feel how many there are, or stand next to the wall on which the soldiers' names are inscribed and see how large it is. So many lines, so many letters. So many names.
As part of a beautiful memorial ceremony, two wreaths were presented in honor of the 10th Mountain Division. One was presented by Italian reenactors wearing World War II era 10th Mountain Division uniforms, and the other by present-day 10th Mountain Division soldiers from Fort Drum, New York.
Following the ceremony, we placed a flower at each of the 355 10th Mountain Division soldiers' graves. As I walked I took off my shoes in order to feel the grass between my toes and know that I had really been there. It was both humbling and haunting, and not an experience I'll ever forget.
I'm jealous. I passed by this on the way to San Gimignano, but didn't get a chance to stop there. I'll have to do it next time I go.
The one in Nettuno, which is on the coast not too far from Rome, is also very nice, though probably not as dramatic as the Florence one. I made a special trip there to see it and lay flowers for one man. The caretaker there previously had been a caretaker at the Florence one. So, that was nice to hear about when we talked. He also had a little information on the man who I was laying flowers for, as in where he had died. These cemeteries are a really nice tribute to the men.
To my four uncles, Girard, Leon, Arthur and Dominick Russomano.
To Arthur and Leon Russomano, who were temporarily buried in Florence area.
Also to my grandmother and mom, who stayed home running the family business alone, due to my grandfather's untimely death, just prior to this horrible war...
May God bless you all, in heaven, as you enjoy eternal life together again..!!