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Italy remembers Liberation Day with ceremonies on April 25

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On April 25 Italy remembers and celebrates the Day of Liberation from Nazi-Fascism. The day is a national public holiday which is celebrated with ceremonies, historic re-enactments and other events which include a visit by Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella to the Ardeatine Caves Mausoleum, a national monument that memorializes the site where the Nazis killed more than 300 Romans in 1944. Italy’s president will also lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Altare della Patria. 

Many towns will host fairs, concerts and other dedicated events. Much like D-Day celebrations in the U.S. and elsewhere, it is also a day that Italy honors its veterans, called combattenti, or fighters. Most cities and smaller towns still ring bells to honor the Day of Liberation for Italy, and wreaths are placed on war monuments. There will be numerous parades and marches and in Rome a flyover of Italy’s famed Frecce Tricolore. On television there is no shortage of live broadcasts, insights, documentaries, and films to commemorate the end of the Nazi-Fascist regime.

While many of the younger generation do not fully understand the sacrifices made by Italians in World War II, that is not the case for Francesco Tonet. He is the youngest boy ever to become a member of ANPI. He was only 14 when he received a membership card in December 2022 as a gift from Associazione Nazionale Partigiani d’Italia. The association was founded by participants of the Italian resistance against the Italian Fascist regime and the subsequent Nazi occupation during World War II. During one of his several interviews after joining, Francesco said, “It is one thing to watch stories of partisans in films, but it is more important to listen to them while they are still alive.” 

There were 35,000 women who took part in the Resistance, of the 70,000 who joined women’s defense groups. Some 1,859 were victims of violence and rape, 4,635 arrested, tortured, convicted, 2,750 deported, 623 shot or killed in action. They are numbers to remember and, as always, there are people behind each number.

There are many symbolic places of the Italian Resistance to visit with children in tow, telling them what happened in Italy decades ago, retrieving the stories of a past that every family preserves. People who lived through the era of World War II will share memories of challenging times when their generation knew “the time had come to resist.” These words were written by Piero Calamandrei, a respected author, soldier, lawyer, and politician who was one of Italy’s leading authorities on the law of civil procedure and was extremely critical of Italian fascism.

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