On Memorial Day I recall my Great-grandfather Gennaro Rizzo’s heroic November 1918 efforts, darting between Eastern Alps mountain passes and barrage of bullets, carrying armloads of ammunition pressed to his chest with determination to reach the Italian Army artillery cut off by enemy fire. His bravery won him a Vittorio Veneto World War I Italian Medal of Honor. (See story in Coraggio! Book #1, page 25, and attached photo of Gennaro Rizzo in Italian Cavaliere (Cavalry) uniform.)
I silently bestow a Medal of Honor to my Great-grandmother Giuseppina, who during that same time courageously birthed her third daughter, cared for her three-year old and six-year-old daughters, and fostered and sold fig crops for income — all without her husband – and with fearless faith, determination, and Coraggio.
On this day, while I honor all the men who have served in wars, I acknowledge and bless all the women who fervently prayed for their safe return, who carried on the family farm, or entered the work force while their husbands and sons were away. These women who determinedly raised children and cared for elderly family with whatever celebration could be created from rations, so children could experience a semblance of normalcy, joy and family love despite the void from absent family members and resources.
I breathe in the strength and courage these women exuded to overcome the emotional and financial struggles of their day. The strength and courage of their example helps me heal the emotional strain and financial worries of the previous week and fortifies me against any potential emotional strain and financial worry of the week to come. Their simple but indomitable carrying-on of life sparks the wisdom and intuition I need to carry on with joy and purpose. Coraggio!