This year’s Remembrance Day ceremony was particularly special. It not only commemorated the 100th anniversary since the end of WWI, but this December marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Ortona. In the cemetery, just outside of town, are the final resting places of the 1375 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in the battles that took place during the winter of 1943.
We were especially thankful to have Canadian Ambassador to Italy, Alexandra Bugailiskis, speak at the ceremony and lay a wreath on behalf of Canada. With her, were Honorary LtCol John Newman of the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, and Mrs. Sandra Seagram and daughter Eugenia.
Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate, Dr. George Elliott Clarke, wrote a moving poem to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle. He flew to Italy to present it at the ceremony, with the help of some of our students.
Also in attendance were Mayor of Ortona, Leo Castiglione, LtGen Whitecross and BGen Wagner of the NATO Defence College, and personnel from the Naples contingent of the Canadian Armed Forces. As well, we were honoured to have the Mayor of Lanciano join us, along with dignitaries from the Carabinieri, Prefettura, Questura, members of the Red Cross, a Canadian battle tour group, and many others wishing to pay their respects for the fallen.
Remembering the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice was an emotional and incredibly humbling experience.
I must thank Paolo Coccione for capturing these powerful images and sharing them with us.