A particularly poignant Remembrance Day

A particularly poignant Remembrance Day

Written by Siena Di Schiavi and Scarlett Eldridge
Edited by David Barbu
Photos by Marino Testa

It was a bright but windy November 11th when Canadian College Italy hosted its annual Remembrance Day Ceremony and the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery in Ortona.

CCI staff, students and parents gathered at the site that is the final resting place for 1,615 Allied soldiers — including 1,375 Canadians — who lost their lives during the Second World War. 

Our school had the unique honour of acknowledging the past surrounded by Canadian and Italian dignitaries, including Canada's Ambassador to Italy, Elissa Golberg, the Mayor of Ortona, Leo Castiglione, as well as representatives from the Canadian Armed Forces and N.A.T.O.

We were also joined by 48th Highlanders of Canada and a delegation from the Ojibway First Nation.

Canada played a vital role in various battles during the Italian Campaign of World War II. Canadian troops fought alongside the Allied forces, contributing to the liberation of Italy from fascist rule. Their involvement in critical battles like the Battle of Ortona and the Liri Valley offensive was instrumental in pushing back Axis powers.

The memory of Canadian soldiers who fought and perished on Italian soil remains deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness of Italians. The sacrifices and contributions of these soldiers symbolize the enduring bonds between the two nations.

The ceremony served as a poignant reminder of the horrors of war and the importance of global cooperation, fostering lasting friendships and alliances between nations. The shared history of Italy and Canada in times of conflict reinforces the importance of honoring those who fought for freedom and peace, underscoring the necessity of preserving these lessons for future generations.

"The experience was extremely saddening while also enlightening about Canadian soldiers' past,” said Samantha Wright, Grade 11.


“I reflected on current issues throughout the ceremony, as many today also risk their lives for their country.”

This November 11th is particularly important, as it also represented the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Ortona. Not only was today's service important for the Canadians in attendance, but for the Italians, who expressed their gratitude for the Canadians who fought so hard for them. 

Tommaso Cespa, a survivor of the Battle of Ortona, was only 10 years old at the time.

He says he will never forget the efforts of the Canadian soldiers, who fed him and protected him. He often visits the cemetery on his own time to pay tribute to them. 

The ceremony started with the singing of the Canadian and Italian national anthems. Then, Ambassador Golberg and Mayor Castiglione addressed the crowd.

The CCI student choir sang, and students read select readings such as John McCrae's famous poem In Flanders Fields.

After two minutes of silence, dignitaries, military representatives and members of the public paid tribute with a wreath-laying ceremony.

Following the ceremony, we took time to explore the rows upon rows of graves and reflected on their names, ages, and the day they sacrificed their lives.