New Philadelphia student interns at military cemetery in Italy

Posted by On 8:44 AM

New Philadelphia student interns at military cemetery in Italy

Thursday

Jul 26, 2018 at 5:17 AM

At the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy, about 38 miles south of Rome, there are more than 7,000 white crosses marking the final resting place of American servicemen who died in the Italian campaign during World War II.

At the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy, about 38 miles south of Rome, there are more than 7,000 white crosses marking the final resting place of American servicemen who died in the Italian campaign during World War II.

It was a sight that Maeggie Herman-Laurence, a 2015 graduate of Tuscarawas Central Catholic High School, saw on a regular basis as she worked as an intern at the cemetery for five weeks this summer.

She was there with a friend, Hope Bruce, as part of a new internship program being offered by Walsh University in North Ca nton.

"Italy was fantastic," said Herman-Laurence, a New Philadelphia resident who is majoring in museum studies at Walsh. "I was so honored to have the opportunity to be chosen for this program. I hope it advances further in the future."

The cemetery is located near Anzio, the site of an Allied amphibious landing in 1944 designed to draw Germans off of the Gustav Line, which had stymied the Allied advance on Rome.

Herman-Laurence and Bruce worked at the cemetery every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which are the busiest days there in the summer months.

"We mainly did research on soldiers buried there," she said. "Our ultimate goal was to put together a tour at the end, which was our final exam for the internship, then give a tour on the three soldiers we researched."

To do their research, they used files at the cemetery visitors center as well as internet sites such as Ancestry.com.

"The cemetery is tr ying to construct more tours based on different ethnicities, such as African Americans, Mexican Americans or divisions or battalions that didn't have a lot of background information on them," she said. "I researched a man who was a general of the 100th Infantry Battalion, which was mainly Japanese Americans."

The cemetery covers 77 acres on the north edge of Nettuno.

"You walk in through big gates," Herman-Laurence said. "You see a giant fountain that is absolutely beautiful. In the fountain, there are 51 sections of lily pads to represent all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Beyond that point you have plots of Latin cross gravestones and some Jewish stars scattered here and there."

At the back of the cemetery is a building that houses a chapel on one side and a map room on the other.

The chapel has a wall of the missing, listing the names of 3,095 servicemen who were missing in action during the campaign. On the ceiling is a depiction of the constellations as they were at 2 a.m. on Jan. 22, 1944, the time of the landing.

"I found that very haunting because that sky would have probably been one of the last things that a soldier might have seen before he went into battle," she said.

When Herman-Laurence and Bruce were not busy doing research, they would hand out brochures to visitors or tell them about the cemetery.

The cemetery not only draws visitors from the United States, but Italy as well.

"That was one of the things that I thought was very interesting about working in the cemetery is that the appreciation for the American soldiers that liberated Italy is enormous," she said. "You get Italians who come in there and share about their grandfather who fought alongside American World War II vets. It's beautiful."

Herman-Laurence said she remembers something that the cemetery director, Melanie Resto, told her while she was there.

"One piece of advice she gave me was when you go into a cemetery, just read the names," she said. "Read them, because whenever you read the names, it's almost like they're still here. They're not gone. Whenever you read those names, they won't be forgotten."

Reach Jon at 330-364-8415 or at jon.baker@timesreporter.com.

On Twitter: @jbakerTR

Source: Google News Italy | Netizen 24 Italy

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