We were very fortunate to learn that the city of Padova offered a memorial ceremony for 9/11 at their own monument, designed by Daniel Libeskind, who also designed the reconstruction for Ground Zero. The Boston program coordinator and one of the professors took us to the memorial service.
There weren’t that many people there — mostly government officials, mayors from the surrounding towns, retired military servicemen, local fire-fighters, and US personnel from the area. One of the Boston students was surprised to discover that a city in Italy like Padova would even hold such an event, but I subscribed to the belief that 9/11, and the events following, changed the world forever. NATO’s agreement dictates that an attack on one nation is an attack on all the others, and in addition to the strong Italian-American heritage in NY, I wouldn’t find it that surprising to behold such an event in Padova. I’m more surprised that the town had a piece of the towers, than anything else.
First, the Mayor, Massimo Bitonci, spoke, then the President (similar to a Governor) of the Veneto region, and then a member of Parliament. Finally, a diplomat from the US consulate nearby spoke. We were all hoping that his speech was going to be in English — and
it should’ve been. His Italian was disgraceful. He spoke with such an American accent, and made so many stumbles and mistakes that many of the Italians were laughing under their breath. It was kind of sad, although his intentions were good.
My favorite part, of course, was the military band. They started off the event with some Italian military marches. In the middle of the memorial service, they played Taps, the Star-Spangled Banner, and then they finished it off with L’inno d’Italia.
In short, I was really pleased that we had such an opportunity to go, especially since it’s easy to neglect something like this when you are 5,500 miles away from home.