Buona notte, amore … ti vedrò nei miei sogni. Buona notte a te che sei lontana.
Good night, love … I’ll see you in my dreams. Good night to you who are far away.
By Calvin T. Lucy Jr.
About six miles from Maastricht, in the Netherlands, lie buried 8,301 American soldiers who died during World War II’s “Operation Market Garden” in the battles to liberate Holland in the fall and winter of 1944. “Operation Market Garden” was an unsuccessful and very costly battle during World War II. It was proposed by British General Bernard Montgomery to secure one bridge at Caen in the Netherlands as a Rhine River crossing near the end of the war. U.S. General George Patton succeeded in crossing the Rhine later using a pontoon bridge constructed under fire by U.S. Army engineers.
Every one of the men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries, has been adopted by a Dutch family who mind the grave, decorate it, and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted. It is even the custom to keep a portrait of “their” American soldier in a place of honor in their home.
Annually, on “Liberation Day,” memorial services are held for “the men who died to liberate Holland.” The day concludes with a concert. The final piece is always “Il Silenzio,” a memorial piece commissioned by the Dutch and first played in 1965 on the 20th anniversary of Holland’s liberation. It has been the concluding piece of the memorial concert ever since.
In 2008 the soloist was a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by André Rieuand and his orchestra (the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands). This beautiful concert piece is based upon the original version of taps and was composed by Italian composer Nino Rossi.
Some may recognize the song as the one played during the funeral scene of Clint Eastwood’s 2015 movie, American Sniper.
If this doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, think it over. Your freedom came at a cost.
*Information compiled from Wikipedia.
Calvin Lucy, Jr. is an 88-year-old Richmond native who retired in 1988 after 40 years with Dominion Virginia Power. His father was one of the founders of WRVA radio, present WWBT-TV, and WCVE public television and the first President of the CBS Affiliates Advisory Board. Calvin remains active in the community, church, Dominon Retirees, and the John Marshall High School Class of 1943. He is married, is the father and step-father of seven, and lives in Chesterfield.