(Image courtesy of the Office of the President of the Italian Republic.)

Italian President leads commemoration of country's entry into First World War

Posted on centenarynews.com on 25 May 2015
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Sunday 24 May - Italy's President Sergio Mattarella led the country in observing a minute of silence to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Italy joining the First World War.

President Mattarella greats veterans at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Rome. Image courtesy of Office of Italian President.

Accompanied by government ministers and veteran groups, President Mattarella laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Rome. The minute of silence was accompanied by a salvo of honour fired by members of the military at memorials to the fallen in 24 Italian cities.

President Mattarella also visited the alpine province of Friuli Venezia Giulia, where much of the fighting on the Isonzo Front took place, laying a wreath at a joint memorial to Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers on Mt. San Michele, and visiting the museum dedicated to the Italian Front during the First World War there.

President Mattarella lays a wreath at the memorial to Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers at Mt. San Michele. Image courtesy of Office of Italian President.

President Mattarella paid tribute to the Italian men and women lost in the First World War, and heralded new European friendships: "In this universe of mud, suffering, hardship and death, thousands and thousands of soldiers on both sides, endured incredible tests, performed acts of great valor and courage and touching gestures of solidarity. We are here to honour them. 

"The cruel logic of war could not bend the sense of brotherhood, friendship and humanity. But one hundred years later, the people who fought during World War I on Mount San Michele are bound together by firm bonds of friendship and cooperation and the common European future."

Nationwide efforts in schools were made to mark the day as schoolchildren were encouraged to make edelweiss tokens and write poems to lay at their local war memorials.

A national relay race, called 'The Army is Marching...'  made up of 600 military men carried the Italian flag from Trapani, across 42 Italian cities, to Trieste with the final six runners arriving into the Trieste region on the evening of May 24th.

President Mattarella gives a spech to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Italy's entry in the the First World War. Image courtesy of Office of Italian President.

Italy entered the First World War on the Allied side on 24th May 1915, with its army fighting mostly along the Alps in harsh conditions. By the end of the war, Italy had suffered some 650,000 military deaths, and almost 600,000 civilian deaths. 

Source: Office of the President of the Italian Republic.

Images: Office of the President of the Italian Republic. (www.quirinale.it)

Posted by: Eadaoin Hegarty, Centenary News.