April 25th and November 11th

If there’s one thing that struck me during my first couple of years in the UK is how British people mark Remembrance Day.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I had to cover it as a reporter.

A huge park, hundreds of people and many many red poppies.

Then, at the eleventh hour, a deafening silence to remember those “who lost their lives for our freedom”.

Hundreds of proud people of all ages coming together to pay tribute to our heroes.

I find the build up to November 11 quite impressive too with its coverage in the media, hundreds of events and thousands of red poppies all over the place.

But what struck me the most is that sense of pride you see on people’s faces, the pride of being part of one nation.

A great sense of unity and a time when everyone stops, no matter what they are doing.

I haven’t seen all of that in Italy that often – unfortunately.


Photo: Michele Bitetto

You may wonder why I am writing a post about Remembrance Day if it’s months away.

Today in Italy is Liberation Day. April 25, 1945 marked the end of the Nazi occupation.

For years I felt that the way Liberation Day was marked across the country was nowhere near that sense of pride and unity that I feel in the UK on Remembrance Day.

I had the feeling, many times, that some Italians didn’t really stop enough to remember those who lost their life for our freedom.

Unfortunately, for some people April 25 had become just a day off and a chance for a picnic.

But today it was different.

I just noticed a lot more articles and social media posts on the importance of this anniversary. A lot more people remembering our heroes.

Maybe it’s because we all feel a bit trapped these days and almost feel like we have no freedom.

But if there is one thing that this Liberation Day in quarantine has taught Italians I think that’ s silence and time for reflection.

Time to realise that maybe we should pay more attention to the way we mark this anniversary.

Time to be truly proud, to really make an effort to come together and remember and maybe time to start feeling part of one big nation after years of divisions.

But this time images are probably better than words and the true sense of this year’s Liberation Day is all in the picture of Italian President Sergio Mattarella commemorating our heroes in a deserted Altare della Patria.

An incredibly powerful image. A deafening silence. A moving moment.

And hopefully a reminder for Italians to make sure that in the future Liberation Day on April 25 will be a time for greater reflection, pray and that huge sense of pride and unity that makes Remembrance Day in the UK so special.

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