Allied forces under the command of general George Patton arrived on the Sicilian shores on July 10, 1943. It marked the beginning of the "restoration of Italy as one free nation" to quote general Eisenhower.
On August 17 of the same year they reached Messina and liberated the entire Island after conquering Pantelleria only one month earlier. Under the command of general Clark the American army took over the city of Salerno.
Naples was freed on October 1 of 1943. The Gustav army blocked the allied advancement to Montecassino until they were finally defeated in the spring of 1944. In June of the same year the allied troops took over Rome.
After liberating Tuscany in the spring of 1945 the allied troops reached Northern Italy and on April 21. The army of general Alexander gained access into Bologna and in the next few days they entered Milano, Genova and Venezia. Here, however, they were spared the fighting; these cities had already been overtaken by the partisan troops of the Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale.
In various cities the people revolted against the nazy and fascist armies. The Germans retreated into the alps and at Dongo on lake Como. At the same time Mussolini was captured by the partisans.
This small writing is only a chronological recounting of the events that took place, but it fail to convey the pain and suffering of the civilians. Italians remember this day each year and celebrate to honor all allied, partisans, civilians, who sacrificed much and lost their lives for the freedom and liberty of today.
This is one day when most shops are closed, the cities and towns are usually boasting with people who put on parades, plays, art shows etc. This is also the day when many visit the tombs of the heroes who lost their lives.
For Italians celebration means getting together with family and friends, singing or listening to the old folk songs of that era, like "Bella Ciao" which is dedicated to the fallen partisans. Celebration also means eating lots of great food. Pasta and bread, of course, are never absent.
There isn't one year that goes by that my memory doesn't go back to the old town, and the older men who congregated in the square. They sat in the sun in groups talking about the events that were still so vivid in their minds even after so many years. I remember how proud they looked wearing their old uniforms, that only came out of the closet that one day each year.
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