By Joe Cannavo
My editorial this month is about awareness, but not the usual awareness of Italian pride and the preservation of our illustrious heritage that I editorialize about in each issue. Instead, my thoughts this month are focused on an awareness for those who have lost their loved ones in the horrendous earthquake that struck the area around Ascoli Piceno on Aug. 24 and totally devastated the village of Amatrice.
The death toll from the catastrophe now stands at 297. In a matter of just a few seconds this natural disaster triggered days of despair. Numerous aftershocks continued to beleaguer weary villagers and further wreaked havoc by hampering frantic rescue efforts to save hundreds buried in the rubble.
However, many never gave up hope, especially when rescuers began to find survivors who had been missing for days in the rubble. During the years I resided in nearby Frosinone, I often visited the region that now lies in rubble. I feel a personal loss, as I’m sure many of you also feel, especially if you have family or friends who were adversely impacted by this disaster.
It’s hard for me to forget how the affected area was before the disaster. Yet, I have spoken to people who have returned from there and have described to me how difficult it is to recognize the place they once called home which now is nothing more a place of intimate memories lying in a pile of stones in the hot sun of late summer. The scene that they face fills them with helplessness and despair because the earthquake stole lives, and left only memories and affections enshrined in every home.
Paintings and treasured photos still hang on walls in dwellings far too unsafe to enter. Openly visible in the rubble are unmade beds left in a hurry that night and forgotten toys left behind in the tragic moments when the ground shook beneath them. It’s hard not to get caught up in despair, not to feel helpless and overwhelmed by the power of nature that makes its voice heard in a most cruel way.
If you haven’t already done so, please consider donating to the earthquake relief fund. The Consulate General of Italy in Philadelphia has provided the information for Italy’s Red Cross earthquake relief effort.