Distinguished Defense Attachés,
It is an honor for me to welcome you at the Italian National Unity and Armed Forces Day, in this very special location in Jounieh.
This year marks the centenary of the 4th of November as Italian National Unity and Armed Forces Day, established by a Royal Decree in October 1922.
From that date, every year we celebrate this recurrence in memory of the sacrifices and the suffering that have marked an important page in the history of my country: namely, the end of World War I and the victory that has meant the fulfilment of the Risorgimento endeavor to unify Italy as one nation.
The same memory we want to preserve for all those, from other nations’ armies, took part in that tragic war, with equal valor and sacrifice.
Celebrating together the end of the war and honoring the fallen in war remind us that wars are always tragic and dreadful. And unfortunately this is true even in our times, even while we speak, with the brutal war waged by Russia on Ukraine.
Going back to 1914, the outbreak of war proved the dramatic inability of the European ruling class of those days to reconcile their national aspirations and interests within a peaceful and cooperative framework
More than ten million soldiers died in the First World War, together with an extremely high and indefinite number of civilians. That sacrifice, did not produce wealth and wellbeing, not even for the winners, but sorrow, poverty and suffering.
On the battlefield, thousands and thousands of people died every day, especially young people, in the darkness of the trenches, in the intense cold, victims of weaponry, hunger and terrible epidemics. Not to mention the mutilated, the disabled, the missing, the prisoners.
We pay tribute today to all and each one of them.
However, war was not only a man related tragedy or heroism. Let me recall today a woman, a Red Cross Italian nurse, Margherita Kaiser Parodi Orlando, the only woman buried at the War Memorial of Redipuglia, in the North East of Italy (where over one hundred thousand tombs of Italian soldiers are laid). She was barely 18 years old when she went to the front and died of Spanish flu, three years later, after taking care of hundreds of wounded soldiers.
Through Margherita we pay tribute to all nurses without a name who lost their life to bring human relief in the horror of the war.
On the National Unity Day, the Italians stand by their Armed Forces with gratitude. The Italian Constitution rejects war as instrument for solving controversies, and favors peace, international collaboration, the respect of human rights and minorities. Our Armed Forces are embodying this vision and are engaged in guaranteeing security and peace at international level, underpinning Italy’s commitment to these principles worldwide.
While we are celebrating this anniversary, about 8500 Italian soldiers are deployed abroad taking part in several international missions. Moreover, there are almost 5000 women and men serving in the Armed Forces who are contributing to maintaining security in the national territory.
Lebanon occupies, historically, a very important place and rank in the international commitment of the Italian Defense. Among the missions abroad, a contingent of about 1200 Italian soldiers is serving in Lebanon within Unifil. It is the largest Italian contingent abroad. And the second largest contingent among the contributing countries in Unifil.
Moreover, since 2015 the Italian bilateral training mission, MIBIL, operates as a permanent hub for training and formation jointly planned and implemented with the LAF. We commend the role of the LAF in preserving the stability and security in the country, facing so many responsibilities in such a hard period for Lebanon.
We will continue to deeply value our bonds of cooperation and friendship with Lebanon and its Armed Forces, based on mutual respect and adherence to common values and in support to security and stability.
All the best to Italy and Lebanon, to our National Unity and to our Armed Forces.
May there be Peace!
Musical pieces by the prestigious “Fanfara” of the 6th Bersaglieri Regiment of Trapani: