Thursday, May 07, 2015

A Moment of Respect and Reverence.


On our way to Pisa we made a special stop.

It wasn’t on our itinerary, but it was felt important enough to be a bit spontaneous, and help us also remember the more recent history of life in this area of Italy ---by paying our respects to those Americans who lost their lives fighting to bring freedom back to this area that was under Fascist rule during WWII.

This is the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial.

And it WILL take your breath away.

After the liberation of Rome on June 5th, 1944, the US 5th Army and British 8th Army, supported by the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces pushed northward toward the Gothic Line.

The Gothic Line was a major German Defense taking advantage of the Apennines Mountains that separate central Italy from the Po Valley.

Many battles ensued between the summer of 1944 and May of 1945.  The long and bloody Allied campaign liberated Italy and contributed to the success of campaigns elsewhere in Europe.


Carrera Marble crosses in the sun.

You will find 70 acres of beautiful Italian countryside immaculately manicured and divided into 8 sections.


Our travelers pay their respects.

In this memorial there are 4,398 headstones radiating in gentle arcs from the memorial pylon at the center back.


My heart is full.

Living in North Carolina, we have many battle fields and memorials and cemeteries for soldiers who lost their lives during the revolutionary or the civil war.

Here in Italy I came upon the grave of a North Carolinian who found his final resting place here on the slopes of a beautiful and scenic, albeit foreign land, giving his life for those who would likely never even know his sacrifice.

This is one of those sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, sweethearts, uncles, friends –who never made it home. 

It is likely that his family was never able to make it all the way to Italy to pay their respects for this soldier.


Standing Watch.

The sculpture of a soldier of the 363rd regiment, 91st infantry division stands watch over the graves of the fallen.

The memorial consists of 4,322 Latin crosses, 76 Stars of David. 

Also memorialized are those 1,409 Missing in Action, 213 Unknowns.

There are FIVE sets of brothers.

There are a few women --Nurses and others who are buried here as well.

I didn’t expect this little side trip, but I am forever grateful that we went.  I may never make it to Normandy, but I made it to the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial in Italy.


And I had sweet friends to share it with!

I was able to make this trip to Italy—indirectly or directly---I shall never really know ---because of those who gave their lives during WWII.

This day I said Thank You.

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  1. Anonymous1:43 AM EDT

    Such a sweet tribute, thank you for stopping and giving us a look at such an inspiring and humble sight.
    There are so many that have gone before and paved the way to freedom and knowledge for all of us. Can we ever be grateful enough? And how often to we pause and give thanks to so many? Thank you Bonnie for the reminder. -Rhonda r7ekblad@hotmail.com

  2. Tina in NJ7:19 AM EDT

    Memorial Day a couple of weeks early. You brought tears to my eyes, Bonnie.

  3. I have been on tours to Florence twice with cruise lines and never saw this. Thank you for sharing. And thank you to all the travelers who took the time today to pay their respects.

  4. Beautifully written! You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reminding us that freedom is never free.316

  5. I hope we are all inspired by your comments to spend a moment this coming Memorial Day to ponder "the reason for the season." Courage. Valor Sacrifice. Love.

  6. I've been to that cemetery too. It is very moving to say the least! Beautiful location. So glad you are having a great trip! Italy is amazing!!!!! Ciao. Beth, Chaplin, SC

  7. Thank you, Bonnie! My husband & I were in Florence several years ago - I wish we had known the cemetery was there. Thank you for the photos and the touching words!

  8. All those American war cemeteries abroad, France, Belgium, Italy, Tunisia, etc have been given the land by the occupied countries. You were walking on American ground. And it is so beautifully maintained by America. Each cemetery has an American Management with a graded officer in charge (sorry, I'm French, don't know how your army grades work)

  9. Bonnie,

    Thank you for making the cost of freedom real once more. We have a tendency to forget the cost that someone paid...a son/daughter, a brother/sister, a husband/wife. We can not forget the price that was paid.

  10. Today is the 70th anniversary of the end of the war with Germany!
    Very appropriate timing...
    Thanks for all who served and thanks Bonnie for reminding us of our freedom is not free..

  11. We weren't able to stop when we were on Jim's trip but we could see it from the bus. So glad you got to spend time there. Wonderful tribute.

    Karen Jones

  12. What a lovely place, brings tears to your eyes just looking at the photos and reading what you posted. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. Many heartfelt thanks to all that served.

  13. Bonnie , I hestitated to write this comment, but I can' t help myself. I ' ve been to that cementary and the ones in Normandy and I do so very agree with what you wrote.
    Therefor I cannot understand that last picture, sitting with a big smile with the crosses in the background. I find it somehow disrespectfull ( although I'm sure that is was not intended.) you do not pose happily in front of a cementary, especially one like this.
    I'm sorry, but no. Had to get this off my chest.

  14. But Bonnie and her friend were not being disrespectful. She was only showing her gratitude and thankfulness of being able to be there. For without those soldier's sacrifice, she wouldn't be able to. Annemiek, you don't know our Bonnie.

  15. Thank you for the pictures of this cemetery. As a military wife, I am so thankful for those who sacrifice for freedom everywhere. I am also thankful to have friends to share it with. Keep smiling, Bonnie. We need that, too.

    Take care.

  16. Sweet tribute and so sincere. Thank you for taking me along on your travels and sharing your finds. It is a pleasure.

  17. I had the honor of taking my father in law back to Normandy where he was a medic in the Army on that fateful day....the miles of crosses brought tears to our eyes. He thought he could tell us about his experiences there but was too choked up to speak for a long time after that visit.

    This is also the anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war..thank you to all who have service our country
    including my dear brother on life support in Alabama.

    Safe travels Bonnie, thanks for the salute to our brave men and women.

  18. Bonnie, thanks for this post. My father entered Italy at the beach of Salerno. Several years ago a friend visited there and brought my dad a Pringles container of Salerno. It was a true treasure. Like you said, if it weren't for those brave men we wouldn't have the lives we enjoy today.

  19. I meant to say "Salerno Sand" from the beach....it was a true treasure.

  20. Anonymous11:13 AM EDT

    Tears. Tears of gratitude flow down my cheeks. Thanks , Bonnie, for bringing me a picture of those graves. It reminds me to pray for the men and women serving our flag and country today. Carolyn Barnett

  21. Anonymous6:53 PM EDT

    Love the pictures from the Italy site we just came back from Germany and had gone to the American Military Cemetary in Luxemburg where General Patton is buried .. they are reverent places! But places of much beauty! Thank you for sharing!!!!!!!


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