Veteran’s & Remembrance Day Tribute Events ’21

The Florence American Cemetery and Memorial

In memory of the treaty ending the First World War, both the English and American communities are celebrating the significance of November 11, the anniversary of Armistice Day in 1918. Whether it’s called Remembrance Day or Veteran’s Day, both commemorate retired or deceased members of the military for the service they gave to their countries. A select number of sites are using this day to pay their respects and open their doors to anyone who wishes to join in these events. 

South by the Greve river near the Impruneta exit of the Rome-Milan toll road, the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial (Via Cassia, near Falciani) will hold a ceremony for the fallen soldiers of the 5th Army. The event will be directed by assistant superintendent Rosie Illiano, with notable guests attending such as Ragini Gupta, U.S. Consul General; Alessio Calamandrei, mayor of Impruneta and Roberto Ciappi, mayor of San Casciano Val di Pesa. Lined evenly down the hill, 4,392 headstones can be found to show 39% of the 5th Army’s ground forces that died, beginning with the liberation of Rome to the surrender of enemy forces on May 2, 1945. At the top of the cemetery stands a tall pylon with a sculpture on top, and the guests of honor will give their speeches in front of it. The historic venue is open to the public every day from 9 am to 5 pm, while the service will take place at 11 am and will last for one hour.

Saint Mark’s English Church (Via Maggio, 16) has organized its events on November 14, the Sunday following the holiday. For those who wish to give their respects through moments of prayer, Remembrance Sunday will provide that opportunity. This will include a 9:30 am Eucharist at the church followed by a Choral Matins at 10:30 am. Kontakion of the Departed, a tribute prevalent in the Eastern Christian community, will be sung to mourn the soldiers and carry the message of memento mori to its listeners. In Paradisum, the last section of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, will be performed as well in addition to other hymns. 

Later that day, the St. Mark’s chaplain will represent the English community in a service held at the Florence War Cemetery for the British and Commonwealth soldiers who fought with the Allied Forces in World War II. The site was founded in 1944 after Florence was liberated in August of that year. It holds 1,632 members of the armed forces, most of whom lost their lives in Tuscany. November 14 will see a tribute ceremony at 3 pm held in the cemetery at Girone, a locality found in the municipality of Fiesole. The event is open to the public, where visitors can visit the site at any time to honor the fallen members of the 8th Army and see a wreath laying service accompanied by trumpeters. The soldiers who came from U.K. and the British Empire helped lead the liberation of the region from the Nazi-Fascist occupying forces in conjunction with the 5th Army commanded by the Americans.  For more information, visit the cemetery’s website. (nelson matos)