Today is officially an EWTN holiday and I honestly intended not to think about work but then I realized I had to share an important story with you – how Memorial Day is celebrated not only in the U.S. but also in Italy in a big way at several military cemeteries. I’ve been several times to Nettuno, about which I write today and I want to share with you that story, including some photos I took on one occasion.   As I always do, I’ll repost this on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Tune in to “At Home with Jim and Joy” today (2 pm ET) when I speak of Memorial Day celebrations in Italy!

Maybe I’ll take tomorrow off!


I have been to this cemetery in Nettuno, 38 miles south of Rome on Italy’s Atlantic coast, and it is beautiful and peaceful and a special place to be in silence, to pray for the dead, to pray that there will never be another war, as Pope Francis did on All Souls Day 2017 when he celebrated Mass here.

It is beautiful to be here any day of the year but especially on Memorial Day

The 2023 Memorial Day celebration at Nettuno took place on Saturday, May 27th. U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Joseph Donnelly was present for the always impressive ceremony.

Some photos I took on a previous Memorial Day visit:

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As its website explains, the World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site in Nettuno covers 77 acres, including a broad pool with an island and a cenotaph flanked by groups of Italian cypress trees. A cenotaph is an empty tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere – essentially, a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Beyond the pool is the immense field of headstones of 7,858 of American military war dead on broad, beautifully kept green lawns beneath rows of Roman pines. Most of the dead died in the liberation of Sicily (July 10 to August 17, 1943); in the landings in the Salerno Area (September 9, 1943) and the heavy fighting northward; in the landings at Anzio Beach and expansion of the beachhead (January 22, 1944 to May 1944); and in air and naval support in the regions.

There is a chapel here, on whose white marble walls are engraved the names of 3,095 of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. The map room contains a bronze relief map and four fresco maps depicting the military operations in Sicily and Italy. At each end of the memorial are ornamental Italian gardens.

A new, 2,500-square-foot center opened in May 2014.


I fly to Chicago tomorrow, spend a few days with relatives, then on to South Bend, Indiana on Saturday to attend a banquet at my alma mater, St. Mary’s of Notre Dame, where I will receive the 2019 Alumna Achievement Award. I still think I’m dreaming! It will be an awesome and exciting moment but very humbling in reality!

I’ll try to write whenever I have a moment in the days I’ll be gone but you can also follow me on Facebook or by tuning in to Vatican Insider, my weekend radio program and next week, as usual, my weekly appearance on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo.

As you know, I took the day off yesterday, officially Memorial Day in the U.S. but it is a commemoration also marked in Italy, obviously a major player in World War II. Today’s column consists of the links to two blogs from one of several visits I’ve made over the years to Nettuno and Anzio in which I tell a wonderful story of a very serendipitous encounter with a WWII vet.


While Memorial Day is special for millions in America it is also very special for many Americans in Italy where, in the town of Nettuno, 38 miles south of Rome and near Anzio on the Mediterranean, there is the World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site. This peaceful, bucolic, 77-acre cemetery bears the headstones of 7,858 American military war dead, arranged on broad green lawns beneath rows of Roman pines.

The majority died in the liberation of Sicily (summer 1943); in the landings in the Salerno area (September 9, 1943) in the landings at Anzio Beach and expansion of the beachhead (January to May 1944).

Every year at this time there are special events and services in Anzio, usually in the presence of military and/or U.S. embassy officials. This year, the cemetery hosted its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Friday May 24 at 5:00 p.m. I have been to several of ceremonies and they are truly beautiful and touching. In addition to the graves – most marked by crosses and some by the Star of David – the names of 3,095 Missing in Action are inscribed on the walls of a small chapel.

Here is Part I of a special visit to Anzio:

And the story goes on in this column: scroll down to “A DAY IN ANZIO, THE TOWN AND PORT”:

You might even want to visit this cemetery and these seaside towns on your next trip to Italy. An easy train ride and well worth the time!