Contributed by Steve Miller
Italy's Unknown Soldier lies at Rome's magnificent Victor Emmanuel II Monument, named after the first king of a unified Italy. Officially it's known as Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), located in the center of Rome.
Italy's Unknown was chosen on 28 October 1921, in the Basilica of Aquileia by Maria Bergamas, mother of Antonio Bergamas whose body was not recovered. She chose the coffin from among 11 unidentified bodies of members of the Italian Armed Forces whose remains had been retrieved from various areas of the front. Passing in front of the first nine coffins, she screamed her son's name and slumped to the ground before the tenth. The bodies not selected were buried at Aquileia's Military Cemetery.
|Victor Emmanuel II Monument
The Unknown lies in a place of honor beneath the statue of the goddess Roma. Official ceremonies take place annually on the occasion of the Italian Liberation Day (25 April), the Italian Republic Day (2 June), and the National Unity and Armed Forces Day (4 November), during which the president of the Italian Republic and the highest offices of the state pay homage with the deposition of a laurel wreath in memory of the fallen and missing Italians in the wars.
He was awarded Italy's highest military decoration, the Gold Medal of Military Valour. On the front door of the internal crypt are words written by King Victor Emmanuel III: "Unknown the name—its spirit dazzles—wherever Italy is—with a voice of tears and pride—they say—innumerable mothers:—it is my son". An honor guard selected from Italy's various armed services is present, alternating every 10 years.
My thanks to Angelo Romano for his assistance. Grazie, Paisano!