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25 April, for us

When we migrated here from Italy and I saw that in Australia the 25th of April is a public holiday, I thought “cool! Aussies celebrate the same holidays that we have!”

It took me some time to realise that it’s not the same holiday at all.

In fact, in Australia on 25th of April we have ANZAC day. It stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and it was initially established to honour the ANZACs who served during World War I.

During that war, on 25 April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed in Gallipoli (in Turkey) and met a fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army.

That’s how ANZAC Day started, but now it broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations”.

In Italy on 25th of April we have Liberation Day. It commemorates the victory of the Italian resistance movement against Nazi Germany and Fascism, during World War II.

Although different cities in Italy were liberated from the German occupation on different days between the end of April and beginning of May, the 25th of April was chosen by convention, to commemorate the defeat of Nazism and Fascism in Italy and the end of the Italian Civil war.

My point is: in Italy and Australia we live the 25th of April in very different ways.

Australia mourns the loss of their brave soldiers.

Italy celebrates the end of a foreigner occupation and of a civil war that divided the entire country.

On one side of the world Australians commemorate in silence.

On the other one, Italians celebrate with joy.

As an Italian-Australian family, we have the privilege to appreciate and honour both commemorations.

It’s a privilege because in both cases what’s important is never to forget.

History teaches us many lessons and as citizens, and most of all as parents, I believe it’s our duty to acknowledge, respect and treasure those lessons.

Historians interpret past events with the perspective of the military outcomes, of geopolitical forces and interests, of societal changes and dynamics; I myself studied the history of wars and politics at uni.

But when you are a parent, and you are striving to teach your child what the 25th of April means (well, our toddler is way too young for this, right now, but eventually we will have these conversations!), historical facts are just a tool to share much more important lessons.

What we want to teach our child is not who won or lost a war.

We want to talk about the loss of families who had to send to war their sons, their brothers, their fathers. Never to see them again.

We want to talk about how precious it is to live in peace, without the constant threat of being incarcerated (or worse) because you don’t align with a regime.

We want to talk about how important it is to be slow at taking sides, when it comes to wars. Politics will come and go, but those families will be destroyed forever.

Like my great-aunt said, when a fascist pointed a gun to her head, trying to discourage her from assisting a partisan: “I’m a doctor. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care who he is. I’m going to cure either of you”.

A life is a life. A beloved one is a beloved one. A loss is a loss.

In our home we remember them with great respect, and we rejoice for being able to live in peace, together, as a family.

We wish you can spend the 25th of April with your beloved ones too.

Lest we forget.

Buona Festa della Liberazione.



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