Yesterday, being Veteran’s Day, I reflected. I thanked my husband for his service, thought of my sweet ex-FIL, who suffered greatly in Vietnam, thought of my grandfather who fought in both World Wars (that’s him on the right in this photo in 1918, at the end of WW1) and everyone else in my family that served in the various wars at one time or another, my cousins, my uncle, and grandfather’s brothers and their children.
I am not sure if it’s my passion for genealogy, my sweet memories of meeting my grandparent’s siblings and their families when I was young, or simply the realization, being far away from my own family, how important ‘family’ really is, but I find stories relating to the struggles of generation’s past absolutely fascinating. In some way, it helps in my daily struggle taking care of Nicky, being thankful for what I have.
For example, I translated the complete interview of my grandma’s sister Caterina, which appeared in an Italian book about lives of women in the 1900’s in a post from June 2012. I also wrote about the horrible fate of my grandpa’s sister Maria in a post from November 2012. In this post, however, I want to pay tribute to my dad’s first cousin Matteo Corradin, who was the eldest son of my grandpa’s brother Giovanni.
I actually didn’t know about Matteo until, upon my insistence, my dad took me to the cemetery of Lusiana in July 1998. I had spent several hours in the church of Lusiana (where my dad and his parents and their parents were born, which is a village in the province of Vicenza, Italy) digging through church records and before we left I wanted to see the graves of all my great-aunts and great-uncles that colored my youth. I can’t say enough how simple, yet happy these people were, I remember all of them with a smile on my face.
As we walked into the cemetery, prominently, in the center, there was the grave of Matteo Corradin. As I looked at the photo on the tomb I had to do a double take. “Oh my God, Dad, he looks JUST LIKE YOU!” I blurted out. ‘Yes, he did‘, said Dad. He proceeded to tell me that he was his first cousin, son of his uncle Giovanni, brother of his dad and how he died as a hero at the age of 22, executed by the Nazi.
Now, I know Mussolini and Hitler worked together, but it’s not as black and white as many may think. There were many so called ‘Partisans’, also called ‘defectors’, which included (and I do proudly say) BOTH my grandfathers, BOTH hunted by the Nazi (but never found-thank God) and I may not be far into thinking Matteo was one of these Partisans. Nonetheless, as Dad told the story, his uncle was absolutely devastated. His only other son had just died of an infection, so he lost 2 sons in a matter of weeks.
Matteo’s grave very eloquently describes his fate: Heroic figure, facing sure death in peace, August 16, 1944, in Marano Vicentino, died for his country. Immortal CORRADIN MATTEO, after having suffered with serene soul tortures and services of the hatred of the nazifascists.
I wish I had had my good camera this day, all I had was my videocamera. These you see here are stills from the video. I made a promise to myself to go back to Lusiana at some point in the future to do more genealogical research and take better photos. It might not be in the immediate future, but surely in the next decade. The church in Lusiana had record books dating back to medieval times and the priests were so nice and let me look through anything I wanted. They had books for funerals, marriages, baptisms and even a few with communions. Of course these books can be hard to search through. Anything before 1820 is written in Latin, there is nothing in alphabetical order and… well, let’s just say that some priests had more legible handwriting than others. Even so, each record had so much info! One baptism record can give me enough information for 2 generations back. A treasure trove!
Thank You Matteo, and Thank You to everyone that sacrificed. You will not be forgotten.
Love and Light,