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mail: Bill Thayer 
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War Memorial


[image ALT: A vertical rectangular marble plaque inset in a plastered wall. In the center of it, an oval with 11 smaller ovals around a central inscription. The smaller contain photographs of men, except for one at the bottom, which is empty. The large oval is crowned with olive on our left and oak on our right, with an escutcheon at the very top. Just below the plaque, a small bracket holds an artificial flower. It is the war memorial plaque in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy).]

This plaque, commemorating Usigni's dead in World War I, is under an archway approaching the Piazza Fausto Poli.


[image ALT: An oval with 11 smaller ovals around a central inscription. The smaller contain photographs of men, except for one at the bottom, which is empty. It is the central motif of the war memorial plaque in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy).]

Ai gloriosi eroi
esempio di virtu
e sacrificio
caduti nella 4
a guerra
per la grandezza d'Italia
i cittadini di Usigni
a testimonianza perenne
posero il 29 agosto

These glorious heroes, an example of virtue and sacrifice, fell in the 4th war for the greatness of Italy: in perpetual witness to them the citizens of Usigni dedicated this memorial on August 29th.

The least I can do is make sure the search engines pick up their names, so — clockwise from the top, the men who died: V. Remoli, A. Spada, F. Mostardi, O. Capitani, A. Avversi, C. Balducci, G. Mostardi, A. Urbani, S. Marini, P. Mercantini, R. Spada. Eleven men just from this small village: the horrific toll of World War I, several times that of World War II, repeats like this all over Italy, all over Europe.

The most striking feature of the plaque is that one photograph is entirely missing. I'm attaching a close-up of the blank spot, which may help determine which of the interpretations that follow — or yet again some other interpretation — is the right one.

[image ALT: A blank patch of stone, oval in shape, and irregularly ridged somewhat like a thumbprint; beneath it the neatly incised and lined-out name, G. MOSTARDI. It is a detail of the war memorial plaque in Usigni, Umbria (central Italy), discussed in the text of this webpage.]

Several possibilities would account for what you see above. (a) The simplest is that no photograph of the man was available; this is very plausible, since the camera was relatively new then, and some people living in rural Italy at the time may never have had their photo taken. (b) The photograph may have fallen off and blown away, with no replacement available. (c) Finally, it is also possible that this one man's photo was intentionally removed later, say after World War II, by way of shorting his memory for something he might have done that was widely condemned — although if so, why not his name as well? The procedure was fairly common in ancient Roman times and is thus often referred to by the Latin phrase damnatio memoriae; but for a definite, documented case of it in the twentieth century, see for example this inscription in the church of S. Quirino (Republic of San Marino), which was officially defaced to remove all mention of a Fascist collaborator.


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Page updated: 4 Aug 14