Story by Megan Garcia, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs
Photos by Patrick Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 16, 2017) – Forty-four German soldiers and seven Italian soldiers are buried at the Main Post Cemetery at Fort Benning, Georgia, and every year nations who were once at war come together during the German-Italian Memorial Day to commemorate and celebrate the sacrifices of these fallen service members and to continue to strengthen their bonds with one another.
Fort Benning held its annual German-Italian Memorial Day Ceremony, Nov. 15 near the graves of these soldiers.
“The men buried here were captured in a time of war, shipped across the Atlantic Ocean and ultimately died on American soil. They now rest in peace alongside some of their former enemies, those American Soldiers,” said the MCoE chief of staff, U.S. Army Col. Andrew Cole Jr., during his opening remarks. “In a way it’s quite remarkable to think about these one-time adversaries who are now shoulder to shoulder, linked with one another for eternity.”
The holiday is observed at all U.S. military installations where World War II prisoners of war from Italy and Germany are buried.
“Once we were enemies. Today we are very good allies, and this ceremony is a testament of this great bond between our countries – the U.S., Germany and Italy, and I am very proud to represent my country here on U.S. soil,” said Italian army Lt. Col. Corrado Carpentieri, the Italian liaison officer to the Maneuver Center of Excellence. “My hope is that we will be able to strengthen our relationship, friendship and comradery in the future, and we are on a very good path to do so. The presence of me and the German liaison officer here at Fort Benning is a sign of that.”
Detlev Rünger, consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany to Atlanta, also emphasized the importance of maintaining these bonds so as not to let the death of these service members be in vain.
“We Germans have a special obligation for reconciliation standing in front of these graves,” said Rünger. “We have the commitment to peace and to justice, and I believe we honestly try to live up to this commitment.”
The Fort Benning garrison chaplain, U.S. Army Col. Robert Hart, said this was his first time attending this particular ceremony at Fort Benning. Nevertheless, he has attended many types of memorial services throughout his career. He emphasized the importance of always paying homage to those who fought and died in various wars, regardless of where they come from.
“We’re always reminded of those who have sacrificed,” said Hart. “We want to never forget what these Soldiers gave for our freedoms, whether it’s our Soldiers or other countries’.”
For a video on the event, see below:
For more photos from the event, visit www.fortbenningphotos.com/Ceremonies-and-Events/Off-Post-Events/2017-Community-Events/2017-11-15-German-and-Italian-Memorial-Day-Ceremony.