Italian, American communities come together to remember Sept. 11
September 13, 2011
VICENZA, Italy - A wreath was hung at the 9-11 Memorial in Padova, Italy, to begin the day. The afternoon brought prayers and hymns at the Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Servi in downtown Vicenza, Italy. The evening ended with hope for a better world at the Villa Cordellina Lombardi in Montecchio Maggiore, Italy.
Throughout the day more than 3,500 Americans and Italians united to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the Pentagon in Virginia, World Trade Center in New York, and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
"It is only fitting of our moral and ethical duty to honor victims of the attacks," said Maj. Gen. David. R. Hogg, commander, U.S. Army Africa. "Those victims include citizens who perished from over 90 countries - including 10 Italian citizens. Today we pause to remember victims of terrorism in every nation around the world," he said.
Far from being paralyzed by the violent actions of a few, most Americans and Europeans seem to be focused on pursuing ambitions for their children and families; i.e, achieving greater levels of education; creating new economic opportunities; and improving the systems that govern them.
According to Hogg, individuals, communities, and nations have proven they are stronger than fear. He added that across Europe, countries have responded collectively over the last 10 years to reduce the threat of terrorism.
"The collaborative effort of many nations working across borders to support the common good has been instrumental in strengthening the efforts of the international community," Hogg said. "Together, we have reduced the capabilities of terrorists groups. The United States remains committed to working with our European allies and partners to confront and counter violent extremists and all transnational threats."
Mayor of Vicenza Achille Variati said there are sprouts of liberations arising in certain worlds, such as the Arabic world, which for decades has experienced fierce oppression and a civil, religious and military tyranny that restricted and crushed every breath of freedom in its blood and torture chambers.
"For all of these people who have recently experienced the recent wars, there now seems to have come the time to take the leading role again, this time on their own terms, this time infused with a genuine breath of liberation as a nation, as throngs of citizens, who claim for themselves the same rights that we as Westerners know and have grown with - sometimes not appreciating them enough - for decades or centuries now."
Variati said we are witnessing the rise of social tensions that seem to be coming to the breaking point, almost ready to violently explode. Every day we update the statistics on poverty, here in the wealthy West, in the rich Italy, in our rich Veneto land, and in our city, this city that has been the symbol of the coexistence of the Italian and American communities for over half a century.
"Today we are called to rethink our world in order to save it, as it happened after the 9-11 attacks, after the wars and after the riots of the 'Arab Spring,' " Variati said. "We are called to redefine our priorities and our choices. We are reminded of what the essential values are, for which it is right and even a duty to fight," he said.
Variati stressed the need for a brighter future that gives us the desire to be better and to make the world around us better.
"It is hope that makes us consider children the most precious thing and makes us fight the most important battles, that drives us to lift our eyes from the miseries and look up at the stars," Variati said. "And even more so in this time of crisis, in this uncertain times, in this time of fear. Pain and grief make men become brothers in the shadow of death. Hope makes us brothers under the luminous sign of life," he said.
Honoring the resilience of individuals, families, and communities on every continent, whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Victoria or Vicenza resonated throughout Hogg's comments. Resilience is a process and it is demonstrated in many ways, but at its core it is the person who possesses the attitude of determination and courage to move forward.
"Vicenza is a wonderful city, with a long and proud history of community service and care for the less fortunate," Hogg said. "And Italy, like many other European countries, has demonstrated resilience over the past decade."
For more than 55 years of the Italian and American military partnership the citizens of Vicenza have exercised mutual respect for and acceptance of other nationalities and cultures, and those who have traditionally shouldered the burdens of defending freedom and democracy.
"We take solace knowing that we are not alone in the experience or defense of freedom," Hogg concluded. "In distant lands far from Vicenza young men and women, Italian and American, stand shoulder to shoulder in harm's way to preserve and protect our liberty, and we are grateful for the immense burden carried by the people of Italy in support of peace, stability, and universal human rights."