Monday, April 22, 2013

Remarks at Ponte Dirillo in 2008

Remarks at Ponte Dirillo in 2008, Recently we reported on the United States’ Navy not conducting a ceremony at Ponte Dirillo in Sicily for fear of there being protestors at the ceremony. We are continuing our efforts to organize a ceremony ourselves. Quoted below are my remarks in 2008.

"Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today I join you not only as a former warrior, but as the son of a true warrior (LTC Arthur
F. Gorham), who gave his life while leading his airborne soldiers against a determined
foe at the beginning of the effort to rid Italy and Europe of the scourge of Fascism's two
evil dictatorships. I am reminded of a saying that I had to learn while a cadet at West
Point that is attributed to General Douglas MacArthur-"There is no substitute for
victory." The brave men and women from many countries who struggled with the foe
here in Sicily 65 years ago as part of Operation Husky knew what the sweet taste of
victory would be.
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II
campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis (Italy and Nazi Germany). It was a
coordinated large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of
intense land combat. Husky set the stage for launching the campaign to liberate the rest
of Italy.
Husky began on the night of July 9,1943, and ended August 17. It was the largest
amphibious operation of the war to date in terms of men landed on the beaches and of frontage. Strategically, Husky achieved the goals set out for it by Allied planners. The Allies drove Axis air and naval forces from the island; the Mediterranean's sea lanes were opened
and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was toppled from power. It opened the way to the
Allied invasion of Italy.
Extreme were the conditions: from the winds that blew to the fierce combat that ensued
to the extreme heroism that we are here today to honor.
The Allied land forces were mainly from the American, British, and Canadian armies.
Other countries also contributed to the air and naval forces for the invasion. The
landings took place in extremely strong wind, which made the landings difficult but also
ensured the element of surprise. Landings were made on the southern and eastern
coasts of the island, with British forces in the east and Americans towards the west.
Spearheading the sledgehammer blow to crack open Hitler's Festung Europa, for the
first time, would be paratroopers of the 5051h Regiment of the U.S. 82nd Airborne
Division and glidermen and parachutists of Britain's 1st Airborne Division. My father was
one of those American paratroopers.
History was made by these brave men. It was the first nighttime mass parachute drop
ever. It was the first true test of combined military operations by a military coalition. At
midnight on July 8, 1943 these men would leap into Sicily totally unaware that scores of
German panzers were lurking just inland in the darkness.
Strong winds of up to 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) scattered aircraft widely off course,
and half the U.S. paratroopers failed to reach their rallying points. Those that did
defeated several counterattacks against the beachhead and thus insured the success of
the landings.
The casualties on the Axis side totaled 29,000, with 140,000 (mostly Italians) captured.
The U.S. lost 2,237 killed and 6,544 wounded and captured; the British suffered 2,721
dead, and 10,122 wounded and captured; the Canadians suffered 2,410 casualties
including 562 killed and 1,848 wounded and captured. One does NOT measure success
by body count! But these casualties are more than have been lost in both Iraq and
Afghanistan. For many of the American forces and for the entire Canadian contingent,
this was their first time in combat. They had learned what it meant to win on the
battlefield against a determined foe.
Today the nature of warfare has changed. It is unclear what constitutes victory in the
current political climate in the eyes of the media. What is the taste of victory? We fight
against terrorists who know no rules of war and who want to deny us our freedoms.
Very pertinent to today is what Winston Churchill said in 1940 before the United States
entered World War II "Victory at all cost. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory no
matter how long and how hard the road may be; for without victory there is no
survival.”.
As we contemplate the sacrifices made 65 years ago let us insure that these warriors'
lives continue to be relevant in our search for freedom from the tyranny that terrorists
would impose on us. We as an international community must remember that for without
victory there is no survival. Those brave men and women of 65 years ago understood
this-do we?
Let me close by reassuring those who gave their lives for freedom that we understand
their sacrifice by reciting The Absent Legions by - Edgar A. Guest

Somewhere, far away, 'they heard us
When the word of Victory stirred us.
Safe within God's Holy keeping,
Heard us cheer and saw us weeping;
Shared in all we did or said-
Freedom's glorious, youngest dead.
Never doubt it, there was gladness
Where the dead are done with madness,
Hate and hurt, and need for dying.
As they saw our banners flying
On our day of joyous pride,
" 'Twas for this," said they,
"We died!"

What if tears our eyes had blinded.
As of them we were reminded?
Never doubt it. they were voicing
Somewhere. songs of great rejoicing;
Glad to look on earth and see
Safe our country. still. and free.

Thank you for the warm hospitality and we look forward to returning to Sicily sometime in
the near future."

It is now time for us toreturn for the 70th anniversary of Operation Husky and to commorate the begining of the liberation of Europe.

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