Someplaces still remember what we did for them 60 years ago
This is a discussion on Someplaces still remember what we did for them 60 years ago within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Italian town commemorates World War II tragedy
CISTERNA di LATINA, Italy For American forces fighting their way north to Rome, it was the site ...
March 19th, 2010 04:05 PM
Someplaces still remember what we did for them 60 years ago
Italian town commemorates World War II tragedy
CISTERNA di LATINA, Italy For American forces fighting their way north to Rome, it was the site of a heroic but hopeless stand, where only eight men out of two Ranger battalions escaped German troops.
For the Italians caught in the fighting, it was the place where they lived underground for months before being sent on a forced march north by the Germans.
On Friday, the anniversary of the roundup in 1944, this town between Anzio and Rome held its annual commemoration of the bloody events of World War II with ceremonies held beside a monument to victims of all wars and school children visiting the grottoes where their grandparents took shelter from the bombing.
This town of 32,000 people, once a manufacturing center but now the heart of kiwi production in Italy, has not forgotten the elite U.S. Army Rangers, who fought to liberate them from the Nazi occupiers. There is a Via dei Rangers, a school named after the Rangers' commander William O. Darby and signs noting Cisterna is twinned with Darby's hometown, Fort Smith, Arkansas.
The site of the Cisterna battle, alongside a canal on the road to Nettuno, is recorded by a plaque in English, German and Italy recalling those who "fought and died."
"It is an ugly memory but we can't forget it because it is part of the history of our country," Mayor Antonello Merolla said at the ceremony
By all accounts, the Cisterna battle was a disaster for the Americans.
The Rangers were used as a spearhead after the landing at Anzio, but because of poor intelligence met unexpected, fierce resistance at Cisterna and by authoritative accounts did not have the support weapons to overcome it as they battled through mud and drainage ditches.
Rick Atkinson, in the book "Day of Battle" said 250-300 Rangers died and eight escaped, leaving hundreds of others captured.
According to Marsha Henry Goff, an unofficial historian for the Rangers whose father served in the elite corps, "Col. Darby, who had protested the use of his Rangers as conventional troops contending they were trained for a different type of fighting had gone into a room alone and sobbed" after learning of the casualties.
She said the first word of the disaster came in an Associated Press war dispatch from Naples on March 8 five weeks after the battle.
"A grim secret kept locked in the hearts of allied troops in Italy for over a month now has been placed in the record of heroic but hopeless `last stands,'" it began.
The breakout from the beaches of Anzio had been stalled and the liberation of Rome, the first Axis capital to fall, would have to wait until June.
This was also grim news for Italian civilians.
"We lived for months underground," Bruno Fieramonte, 75, a retired school teacher, told school children taken down to the dark and dank grottoes of a 16th-century palace on the main square, recalling the fighting and bombing that destroyed 90 percent of the town's buildings with only few scarred and blackened homes from that era still standing.
Then, on March 19, the Germans, increasingly worried about resistance, rounded up the entire town and marched them north. Many ended in labor camps and farms as far north as Tuscany.
Felice Paliani, who was 13 at the time, said he was taken in as a mascot by the Americans when Cisterna was finally liberated. "We survived because we were united," he said.
Surviving Rangers, mostly in their 80s, generally visit around American Memorial Day, combining it with a stop at the military cemetery in Anzio-Nettuno.
The mayor was asked by this reporter whether German survivors were ever invited. "Actually no," he replied. "But you've given me an idea for next year."
You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.
― Robert A. Heinlein,
March 19th, 2010 09:19 PM
God bless all who serve for the rights and safety of others!
March 19th, 2010 09:56 PM
Thanks for the bit of history seldom heard of, or remembered.
Seems like those were the days of respect and admiration, from people who truly were in distress, and needed help, and would steadfastly appreciate it many years down the road.
I don't know why America does it anymore, when all you hear about is these crybabies in other countries that, say we don't give enough, and they need more, but only after the US has already given them millions/billions
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
Washington didn't use his freedom of speech to defeat the British, He shot them!
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." -- Ernest Benn
March 19th, 2010 11:02 PM
Do keep in mind that the Italians were rather willing partners and allies with the Germans and the Japanese, against us.
Some if not many, if not most of those now expressing gratitude at their liberation would have (or did) gladly fight against us in North Africa and during the invasion of Italy. Prior, they had subjugated much of what is now Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia.
We have short memories, and we forgive and forget too quickly.
It only took a few years before we were "best buddies" with both the Germans and the Japanese, notwithstanding that many of their adult men had put a bullet or a bomb into many of our men.
On post WWII policy issues, I'm of a view that we gave them all too easy a time. We have this mental picture of "Italian" innocence and pretend they were victims instead of villains.
We completely looked the other way without noting that the Japanese, unlike the post war Germans, never were quite willing to acknowledge the atrocities they perpetrated. To this day they do not teach their children about what they did at Pearl Harbor.
March 19th, 2010 11:44 PM
Just one battle like 1 of those in WWII, many American's today would want to instantly withdraw from the war. They stood their ground, for their cause, and thru the losses and hardships ... made a big difference in the world today, and for us. Thank God they did.
Thank you's , just never seem enough.
March 20th, 2010 10:18 AM
Yes, just one minor battle out of very many took more of our lives than both Iraq wars and Afghanistan together. Vietnam and Korean each caused less than 25% of the casualties suffered in WWII on our side.
Originally Posted by Eagleks
Our memories of what the German, Italian, Japanese Axis actually did, the killing of approximately 75,000,000 (that's million) people
has been way too short.
Our forgiveness and "amnesia" way too too easily obtained.
March 20th, 2010 04:34 PM
There were plenty of Italians who were not fascists, and saw Mussolini as the buffoon he was. Italians were plenty famous for surrendering en masse to the Allied forces when there were no Germans at their backs.
Originally Posted by Hopyard
March 20th, 2010 04:44 PM
The article, gents, is about honoring the men of the 1st Ranger Battalion and other units who died there. The Italians of that town are doing just that, and they have been doing so for some time. Would you rather they be spitting on American graves and cursing the day we came?
A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.
March 20th, 2010 04:49 PM
I suppose it's human nature to forget after time. Especially in a declared war over 60 years ago. Many combat veterans will never forget nor forgive. It makes me wonder will our children and grandchildren forgive and forget the terrorists muslim attack on 9-11? I will never forget or forgive. Seems we have been in battles all over the world for decades. One would think an intelligent race who can speak, read and write, bleeds when cut would learn from past conflicts. Wishful thinking on my part.
May we never forget those in uniform who protect us night and day in lands far away. And those in all wars who paid the supreme sacrifice in defense of our country. May God Bless our Troops and First Responders.
March 20th, 2010 04:53 PM
i know the italians round mt belvedere were glad to see americans. after all a good portion of their citizens were fighting the germans and mussolini's bunch just as well as the french, americans, british, etc...
but thats not the point. the point is that theres at least one town that remembers heros.
"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."
Every well-bred petty crook knows: the small concealable weapons always go to the far left of the place setting.
March 20th, 2010 11:47 PM
OK, imagine that a radical element came to power in the USA, and the Italians invaded, removed the radical government, and then gave our country back to we, the people. Sure, some of the radical government types would have fought the Italians, but we the people would be grateful, and would honor the brave Italians who fell while fighting for us.
I am NOT trying to inject current US politics into this thread, just presenting an alternative history, for perspective.
March 21st, 2010 07:10 PM
No need for alternative history
Originally Posted by Rexster
There is no need for alternative history. In Germany they all swore they never were Nazis-- after losing the war they caused, that is.
In Italy they all said they didn't support their dictator------ after the war was over they said that.
"brave Italians who fell while fighting for us." Duh, learn some history. Italy was a proud member of the Axis made up of Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Citizens of a country reap the benefits their government brings and acquire the blame for what their government did/does. Fascism was rampant and popular throughout Europe long before the calamity of WWII. There is no way those folks can claim innocence or pretend they were on our side after the fact. A few maybe, but the country as a whole, no way.
The people of Germany, Japan, and Italy (who were lucky enough to survive) got off way too easy for what they wrought. Ten years after they were "staunch allies" in a "western alliance." Ick!
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