Giovanni at End of World War One
The townspeople were
gathered on their front door steps, at their windows, and on their
balconies. The sides of the cobblestone
streets were lined with men,
women and children in anticipation of the long awaited event.
It was a winter day but under the sunny
cloudless sky of Roccamena, a small town near the now infamous town of
Sicily, Italy, it seemed more like a cool welcome early
In the midst of joyful sounds ringing through
the streets, the clatter of approaching marching feet became louder and
Italian troops had arrived. Flags were waved wildly and
the shouting began to sound like loud Hallelujahs. Hearts were filled
gratitude and admiration as the young soldiers in their khaki
uniforms marched into their town.
On one of the balconies Signor Stefano Palmeri’s
four young daughters were waving to the soldiers passing by. One of the
couldn’t help but notice the smiling young girls, and was
instantly attracted to Giovanna. At eighteen years of age, she was the
and the tallest, a whole fie feet-two inches. She waved her
flag in his direction much like the way she might have fanned herself
with a beautiful Spanish fan.
Because the streets were narrow and the
balconies rather low, Giovanni, the soldier, found himself marching
close to her balcony. He
was tempted to salute her or perhaps blow a
kiss up to her, but instead his heart memorized her olive skin, her warm
brown eyes and
the dark chestnut hair that bounced softly around her
Little did Giovanni know that Giovanna was
wondering where this handsome soldier had gotten his beautiful bright
blue eyes. If
opposites attract, this was proof of it. He was
fair-skinned with long wavy hair– and those eyes! Giovanna watched the
until he had marched out of sight.
He was engulfed in the throng of townspeople who
had felt the ravages of war for four long years. The sound of exploding
was still ringing in their ears when finally the news reached
them that on November 11, 1918 the Peace Treaty ending the First
World War had been signed. The joy of these poor, peace-loving people
was boundless. They had hungered for peace, and
here were the
soldiers, back from the war. Men, women and children continued waving
flags, saluting and shouting their heartfelt
lifted their infants high into the air to get a glimpse of these heroic
soldiers who fought in “the war to end all wars.”
As Giovanni marched with his troop he
occasionally looked back to capture a glimpse of the girl on the balcony
once more, but
she was nowhere in sight. He would remember the part
of town where he had seen her and search for her.
The townspeople continued their celebration.
Families embraced one another, crying and shouting their gratitude up to
The war was over. Their sons, husbands, brothers and
sweethearts were returning home. Mingled with tears of joy, were tears
grief, shed for the loved ones who had lost their lives in the
Giovanni marched on, filled with gratitude that
he was one of the fortunate soldiers returning back to their families.
forward to being once again in Catania with his parents,
sisters and brothers, but the vision of that dark-eyed girl on the
would not leave him.
The troops moved further on towards their
destination. They were to be transported by military carriers to
Palermo. There these
weary soldiers would find their separate modes
of transportation for the remainder of the journey home: ships, trains
horses hitched to colorfully painted Sicilian wagons.
The memories of foxholes and bombings would
slowly start to fade as they feasted their eyes on the beautiful hilly
covered with orchards and fruit trees. These young
soldiers were exhausted but inspired by the thought of seeing their
loved ones again.
While the townspeople of Roccamena were still
celebrating the return of their beloved heroes, Giovanna wondered if she
ever see the captivating golden-haired soldier again.
Giovanni would soon be home, embraced by family
and friends. His first responsibility was to his family, but he knew
in his heart, that he must, and would see that girl on the
balcony again and very soon.