This year the national Armed Forces Day coincided with the centenary of the end of WWI.

The various Associations of Arms gathered at Scalabrini Village Austral, at the Baita degli Alpini (Hut of the Italian alpine troopers) in front of the memorial building.

There were more than 220 people present, including carabinieri, Italian marines, riflemen and naturally, the Alpini (Italian alpine troopers) with their hats with the long black feather.

Paolo Rajo of Rete Italia introduced the presidents of the various associations, as well as the vice Consul Simone Baraglia and Colonel Luca Spuntoni.

The flag-raising was accompanied by the trumpet call of Il Silenzio, which was played in honour of those fallen in war.

Wreaths of flowers were placed at the foot of the memorial after the Australian and Italian national anthems were sung.

Vice Consul Simone Baraglia then spoke, thanking all the Associations of Arms present for being particularly active in NSW and in Australia in general and for organising the important commemoration.

“Reflecting on the centenary of the end of WWI, I would like to remind you that it was one of the bloodiest wars in humanity’s history, which resulted in the loss of many human lives, including those of Italians, and of course, many young people,” Baraglia said.

“It is worth remembering certain figures to which no one can remain indifferent: 9,700,000 soldiers were killed on the battlefields, and of these, 680,000 were Italians; 21,000,000 wounded; 950,000 civilians killed due to military operations; 5,900,000 civilians killed as collateral due to famine or epidemic.

“A total of more than 37 million people were dramatically affected by the First World War, which also destroyed environmental, cultural and artistic heritage.

“I would therefore like to thank all of you for being here,” concluded the vice Consul Baraglia, “and I would like this to be a moment of celebration for the end of a tragic event, but, at the same time, a moment of reflection on the European bond that remains strong today, as well as a moment to commemorate the many heroes who played a part in the Armed Forces, heroes both known and unknown who every day with their sacrifice have ensured that we can become more secure and more united as a nation”.

Colonel Luca Spuntoni then thanked those present for testifying to the strong attachment to the homeland, to justice and to honesty in the scope of achieving order.

Paolo Rajo, in his welcome address to the Alpini of Club Marconi and of the Gruppo Abruzzi, wished to recall the Alpine contribution to the First World War: 24,876 Alpini killed, 76,670 wounded, 18,305 missing; 4605 killed from illness due to unhygienic conditions in the trenches, 1609 missing in battle and some missing after they were lost without a trace while attempting to escape the battlefield.

Preghiera dell’Alpino by Gianfranco De Zotti was recited alongside Preghiera del Marinaio, with both read by Riccardo Montrone.

Antonio Bamonte concluded the speeches in the name of the Association of the Carabinieri.

He greeted and thanked vice Consul Baraglio, Colonel Spuntoni and all the colleagues of the Armed Forces and guests who had turned out for this important occasion.

The guests were then directed to the adjacent Church of the Divine Providence where Don Pierluigi Passoni celebrated a solemn, sung mass.

Marco Testa played the organ accompanied by the voices of Maria Grazia Storniolo, Giovanni Testa and Maria Mara.

Following the religious ceremony, the guests proceeded to the recreative area of Scalabrini Village to enjoy the “mess” prepared by the Alpine cooks, assisted by additional helpers.

A rich Italian antipasto was served, which consisted of salumi and cheeses, plus pasta alla calabrese  to lick your lips for, porchetta prepared by Rodolfo Miotto, sausages, steaks, polenta, zeppole and panettone.

Obviously the meal would not have been complete without a good wine; three demijohns were completely drained.

President of Scalabrini Village, Leroy Certomà made a visit during lunch and thanked the President of the Alpini for the lovely invitation to celebrate the important occasion.

President Certomà then thanked the Alpini for bringing their beautiful memorial to the Village.

As is usual, the final word was reserved for the President of the Alpini Giuseppe Querin, a man of few but direct words, who thanked those who had worked to make the day happen: the cooks and guests, and indicated that he would be sure to return to the Village for other occasions.