Memorial Day 2005 at Florence American Cemetery


Planned wreath presenter Mr. Miller speaks with U.S. Ambassador Mel Sembler.

Beth Miller arranged for her son Bill and his wife Deborah Miller to be present and represent the family and AWON at the Memorial Day ceremony, Florence, Italy. Because this year marked the 60th anniversary, many dignitaries attended the ceremony, including the US ambassador to Italy. The ceremony was quite moving and the tears flowed freely. Bill Miller was honored to represent AWON and our fathers. He came home ready to talk about WWII and asked his mother questions about the war and his grandfather. Beth writes "AWON not only connects us with one another, it connects the generations."

John Luncheon, Superintendent of Florence American offered this description: Mr. Miller was in conversation with the US Ambassador to Italy, Mr. Mel Sembler. It so happened that they are both from Florida, and under the circumstances, they had a brief but great conversation. Unfortunately, the wreath laying procedure changed and due to the increase of wreaths that were prepared for the ceremony, the wreaths were prepositioned at the memorial prior to the ceremony and organizations represented by wreaths of remembrance were mentioned during the proceedings.


The Florence Wreath.

 


U.S. Troops wear vintage World War II uniforms for the occasion.

 


U.S. Troops wear vintage World War II uniforms for the occasion.

 


The Italian men holding the banners represent different regions or groups in Italy.

 


Florence American from the air.

Florence American Cemetery and Memorial is located on the west side of Via Cassia, about seven and a half miles south of Florence, Italy. The site covers seventy acres, chiefly on the west side of the Greve River.

The wooded hills which frame its west limit rise several hundred feet. Between the two entrance buildings a bridge leads to the burial area with the headstones of 4,402 American military Dead, representing thirty-nine percent of the U.S. Fifth Army burials originally made between Rome and the Alps. Most died in the fighting which occurred after the capture of Rome in June 1944. Included among them are casualties of the heavy fighting in the Apennines shortly before the war's end.

On May 2, 1945, the enemy troops in northern Italy surrendered. At Florence, the headstones are arrayed in symmetrical curved rows upon the hillside. Above the burial area on the topmost of three broad terraces stands the memorial marked by a tall pylon surmounted by a large sculptured figure. The memorial has two open atria or courts joined by the Tablets of the Missing upon which are inscribed the names of 1,409 Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country and who rest in unknown graves.

 


In Their Memory

 

Thanks go to Florence Superintendent John Luncheon for the top photo,
thanks to Bill and Beth Miller for providing the rest of the photos,

and thanks to stateside coordinator Bill Chiodo for the arrangements.