Chargé d’Affaires Karen Johnson Honors Military Servicemen and Women at American-Italian Memorial Day Ceremony

USUN Rome Chargé d’Affaires Karen Johnson presented the keynote address at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy on Monday, May 28, 2012.   Deputy Minister of Defense for Italy, Dr. Gianluigi Magri, also addressed the audience, along with Admiral Bruce W. Clingan, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa; and Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples; and Maura C. Sullivan, The American Battle Monuments Commission Commissioner.  The Mayors of Nettuno and Anzio, Dr. Alessio Chiavetta and Luciano Bruschini, respectively, also joined the dignitaries for the ceremony.

Over two-hundred veterans, United States and Italian military members, government representatives, families and students braved the rain to honor the fallen heroes for their extraordinary courage, valor and unwavering devotion.

The Sicily-Rome American Cemetery has held a Memorial Day Ceremony since 1944.  This ceremony honors the 7,861 American military servicemen and women buried in the cemetery and the 3,095 service personnel missing in action or buried at sea, whose names are memorialized on the chapel walls.  These honored dead gave their lives during the 1943-45 campaigns in Sicily, the landings at Salerno, the landings and heavy fighting at Anzio and Nettuno, and the advance to and liberation of Rome.  They are buried here, on foreign soil, at the request of their next of kin.  The cemetery is located in the area of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division’s northern advance during the Italian Campaign.

Several Italian WWI veterans still attend the Memorial today, expressing words of utmost gratitude for the United States’ contribution to the war in Nettuno and Anzio.

Chargé Johnson remarked, “It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others.”  While observing the U.S. and Italian navy members brave the bitter rain, Chargé Johnson poignantly added, “We owe all these brave Americans something.  We owe them a promise.  A promise to never forget that their love of country gave them the courage to defend with their lives our right to live in freedom.  And we owe them another promise.  We must all commit to continue their mission to help establish a peaceful world, one where all people see the good in each other and the differences.”

Chargé Johnson then read President Obama’s Memorial Day Proclamation, Prayer for Peace.