No school on Monday because of Veteran’s Day, which most Americans think is a uniquely American holiday. Of course, Veteran’s Day on November 11 commemorates the sacrifice of all veterans, but its date points to the end of World War I.
Miglierina announced on Facebook its veteran’s day, celebrated on November 4. Numerous miglierinesi paid the ultimate price from the reunification of Italy in 1860 to World War II. I know! I saw their names engraved in a plaque in the town square.
I find myself in a unique position honoring family veterans during World War II who fought on opposite sides, like families in the American Civil War. On the American side, my father served with the Army Air Corps in the European Theater. Uncle Gene, a sailor in the Pacific Theater, saw his ship sink due to Japanese torpedoes. Cesare Sacco, a cousin of my nonno, Cesare Sacco, died at Stalingrad fighting for Mussolini against the Russians. My cousin Gennaro showed me his picture and was emotional in telling me his story.
Italy lost over 200,000 men at Stalingrad! To appreciate this figure, the U.S. lost 450,000 men during World War II. Few miglierinesi liked Mussolini though there were fascists in my nonni‘s hometown. They were forced to serve under pain of death. My cousin Cesare Sacco left his family and everything he loved in life to fight against an enemy he knew not. He probably experienced total despair in the freezing cold, thousands of miles from miglierinesi praying for him.
On this Veteran’s Day 2012, I pray for all veterans, but I reserve special prayers, un rosario da recitare, for Cesare Sacco, cousin, miglierinese, hero, who made the ultimate sacrifice 69 years ago. Sanbbenediga, cugino!