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la 1541378724 kpegmwmk8i snap imageItalian President Sergio Mattarella, center, attends an Armed Forces Day ceremony in Rome. (Massimo Percossi / EPA-EFE/REX)

Italian observance for Armistice Day's 100th anniversary

via the Associated Press

The nation of Italy commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of the war, this week. In official ceremonies in Rome and in Trieste, Italy's president Sergio Mattaella recalled Europe’s history, and urged young people to remember the conflict's lessons while striving for peaceful coexistence.

“To celebrate together the end of the war and to jointly honor the fallen — all the fallen — signifies to reiterate with force, all together, that over the path of war, we prefer to develop friendship and collaboration,” he said at a ceremony in Trieste, a port city not far from some of the deadliest battles between Italian soldiers and troops of the Austrian-Hungarian empire.

The events were part of a week of observances planned for the centenary of Armistice Day. More than 60 heads of state and government are expected to attend an international ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on the Nov. 11 anniversary.

In Trieste, Italy's president singled out the memory of a “simple soldier,” Vittorio Calderoni, who died from his wounds at age 17 just after World War I ended. Calderoni was the son of Italians who had immigrated to Argentina, but he sailed to Europe to enlist in the army and fight for Italy.

Mattarella said he chose to pay tribute to him “because Vittorio Calderoni was Jewish, the youngest of some 400 Italians of Jewish origin who died in the Great War.” The president said he considered it his duty to note that in the same square where he spoke, late Italian dictator Benito Mussolini delivered a 1938 speech that ushered in “the dark and tragic” period of the Fascist regime’s anti-Jewish laws.

Mattarella encouraged young people to keep an “active” memory for the victims of wars as a way to consolidate freedom and harmony as “irreversible” choices for Europeans.

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