Monday, November 12, 2018
Veterans Day in a mountaintop Italian village
by Robert Stronach
A New York legionnaire visiting Italy in November spent Veterans Day in a tiny mountaintop village called Tremensuoli. The village square offered a panoramic view of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Apennine mountains. The bells of a thousand-year-old church peeled every 15 minutes. In the center of the piazza was a monument to those who endured suffering and the loss of freedom in World War II. The life-size statue of a woman, with arms spread wide, stood below a sculpture of a dove of peace flying through the rays of the sun. One of the woman’s hands reached up toward the dove while the other reached down, touching barbed wire.
That wasn’t the only sign of the impact of war. In 1944 American soldiers fought their way through, pushing the Germans back and providing relief to this remote village. One of them left behind a memento. It was a simple GI-thing. Marshall A. Webb carved his name on a wall (M.A. Webb), that he was from Campbellsville, Kentucky (C-ville, KY), and the date (1944 March).
Villagers researched who M.A. Marshall was, discovering he fought with the 339th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Company E, and on 15 March 2015, they enshrined his graffiti behind plexiglass, along with his Army photo and a poem he had written about his march through Italy.
The owner of the sole restaurant in Tremensuoli was quick to offer to take the legionnaire and his family to see the enshrined graffiti.
It was heartening to realize that people across the ocean still cherish the American GI.
Here is Marshall Webb’s poem, titled:
One more river to cross…
Spring is coming to Italy
The grass is turning green
Christmas has come and winter is gone
Ten years to us it has seemed
We now in defense in Italy
But the time will come again
To fight our way into the Po
And bring this thing to an end
We all remember Treminsola
And the days we fought for Rome
The rivers we crossed and hills we took
But yet we farther from home
We can always remember Salerno
Where our buddies fought and fell
As well as the beach head at Anzio
Where lots of our buddies still dwell.