Memorial Day 2015

I’m sorry that I haven’t written as much as I’d initially said I would. And I’m sorry that most of my posts begin with an apology, whether written or merely implied. I have a billion words within me, ready to spill out at the drop of a hat, but my world is full of *wait* right now. “Wait before you say those words, the terrorists are watching.” “Wait before you wear anything that could identify you as American.” I didn’t worry too much at first. After all, my blog started out pretty impersonal… But then I put some pictures of us. And then ISIS started talking about Rome. And then the guards on the army base started wearing bulletproof vests, so naturally I became a bit shy about the blog. Now the vests are off again, and everybody is starting to relax again, so I think I am ready to speak a bit.

Don’t worry, our grandmas, we’re as safe as we can possibly make ourselves.

We’ve been busy and happy. We’re embracing Italy as hard as we can.

For Memorial Day we joined the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on a trip down to the ceremony at the Florence American Cemetery. My husband joined the VFW a few months ago so this trip was very special for us. The ceremony was incredibly touching and the cemetery and monument were in a beautiful, idyllic location. Because 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of Italy’s liberation from fascism, there were many high-profile people in attendance. We saw Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, John R. Phillips, U.S. Ambassador to Italy,  U.S. Consul General Abigail Rupp, and U.S. Army Brigadier General John Hort of the U.S. Army Europe Command. We also were able to hear music from the Carabinieri “Fanfara” band. The Carabinieri are Italy’s police force and they are quite talented. I’ve honestly never felt more patriotic than I did that day, and btw, the Italian National Anthem is one of my new favorite songs. It’s on youtube. Go give it a listen if you have a few minutes.

My husband was officially sworn in to the VFW before the ceremony. We’re very proud of him and I honestly can’t think of a more special way to join such an organization.

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Looking out at the flag from the monument.

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A few of the VFW guys in front of the monument.

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P1040621P1040620 A small portion of the 4,402 graves on site, a vintage vehicle (from, I’m guessing ,WWII. I didn’t have time to get close enough to see), and a very handsome gent.

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Never forget.

After the ceremony and a brief exploration of the cemetery grounds, we all stood around the bus and drank backyard moonshine wine provided by one of the Italians who accompanied us. (Note: it probably wasn’t moonshine wine. But it was homemade and it perfectly hit the spot.)

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They even brought cups for us. These are my kind of people!

The party then moved over to a nearby restaurant where we ate fantastic food (I tried pâté! It was pretty good!) and hung out with some great friends. The vino flowed, the beer was poured, and we all talked, laughed, and ate. For hours. It was all molto Italiano.

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During the raffle, we won four bottles of wine (traded two of them since we honestly aren’t big wine drinkers). The crazy thing is that we won the Big Prize, a bottle of 150€ wine. It came in a wooden box and we aren’t allowed to drink it for at least two more years. We’re excited!

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A few of the guys. They’re so fun to talk with.

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All in all, it was a wonderful day, and an experience I will never forget. I really hope we can return next year.

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And this handsome chap who, despite being the only kid present, had a great time as well.

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