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The community band of Montepulciano plays a stirring march during Armistice Day ceremonies on Nov. 4. (Jock Lauterer photo)


Banner-bearers wearing traditional WWI Italian military hats, stand in the light rain, prior to the Armistice Day parade in Montepulciano.

As if to match the event’s somber mood, a light misting rain fell on Montepulciano’s annual Armistice Day ceremony and parade, marking the end of the Great War exactly 100 years ago today which claimed the lives of an estimated 460,000 Italian, including local soldier Fancuilli Marino.

But if the weather was a problem, none of the 40 or so participants seemed to notice. Not the 20 members of the local citizen’s marching band, not the banner-bearers, not the military men, not the local priest in his floor-length black habit, nor a small handful of older townspeople gathered to mark this day in history.

Where’s the local newspaper? I find myself asking at these public events — and the answer seems to be – in Siena, an hour distant. So little marker events like this goes undocumented, at least by the media, of which I freely admit to being a member.
This is the second event in as many years that I’ve found myself covering, somewhat embarrassed to be the only journalist there with pen and camera attending a notable event in the life of this community.

Last year I chanced upon a ribbon cutting of a new pedestrian footbridge. And at the olive harvest festival, again, I was the lone journalist.

It strikes me as a little ironic that photojournalist from 4,000 miles away feels compelled to cover these community events. And so it was with today’s ceremony, where the 98 local men lost in WWI are memorialized with as many stone markers and giant steeple-like cypress trees that line the Viale della Remembranza leading down to the church.

This was the parade route for the community band, the banner-bearers, the parade followers. As the band played a stirring march, I hurried down to the stone marker of my soldier, where I was moved to find yesterday’s roses still intact, if not looking a little shabby with age.

“There, soldier Marino,” I told the stone. “This is for you.”


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