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Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011

German, Italian soldiers honored with Memorial Day

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Despite Wednesday’s pouring rain, Fort Benning German and Italian liaison officers moved wreaths to the graves of fallen German and Italian soldiers at the Main Post Cemetery.

The German and Italian Memorial Day ceremony, celebrated annually at Fort Benning, brought together three nations to honor the sacrifices of soldiers both past and present.

“Americans, Germans, Italians — one-time enemies are commemorated today —together,” said Maj. Ulderico Ricci, Fort Benning Italian liaison officer.

“If we don’t believe in all the sacrifice, it would have been in vain. So I pray to God to give us the strength and determination to continue to do our job as soldiers and to continue to believe that we are doing the right thing. May God bless our fallen soldiers and families in our mention.”

Lt. Col. Frank Schuster, German infantry liaison officer, said it was important to remember all soldiers. “We try to show that we don’t care that if it’s a German or Italian or U.S. soldier — it is a soldier,” he said. In Germany, Schuster said, they celebrate a Memorial Day that honors not just soldiers but all who perished during the World War II, including victims of the Holocaust.

“We remember all of them,” he said.

Constance Heery, director of communication for the German Consulate General in Atlanta, said the Memorial Day “reinforced the memory of all lives lost and all past suffering.”

“… Year after year we stand at cemeteries to remember the more than 60 million victims of the two world wars — soldiers, civilians, men, wives, children, of all nations, all ages, religions and all faiths — who made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.

Each year, the German and Italian Memorial Day is observed at installations where German and Italian prisoners of war are buried. There are 44 German soldiers and seven Italian soldiers buried at Fort Benning.

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