Ricordiamo Forlì

John Young

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John Young

John Merritt Young (March 16, 1922 – April 16, 2008) was an American jazz pianist. Young played with Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dexter Gordon, and many others. He recorded with his own trio in the 1950s and 1960s, and was a sideman for Von Freeman, Gene Ammons and others. He remained active in the Chicago jazz scene until a few years before his death. more »


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[In Piazza Aurelio Saffi]

Narrator:

This is Piazza Aurelio Saffi, at the heart of Forlì, a small city in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. It’s a warm September morning and the piazza is crowded with people, watched over by the lofty bell tower of the 12th century Basilica of San Mercuriale.

The bells of the Duomo — the Cathedral of Santa Croce — cascade across the center of Forlì and beyond, echoed by bells of outlying churches and chimes of the city’s clock tower. It feels like these sounds have existed here forever, part of the space, part of the life of the city.

Just next to the tower of San Mercuriale there is a small portico with a memorial captioned Caduti per la Libertàfallen for libertyacknowledging many who died in World War II in the struggle against occupying Nazi forces and Fascism. Their pictures, some of them children, are etched into tiles in memory of what people of this town went through at that time.

The year of 1944 saw Forlì ravaged by the bombardments of both Allies and Germans and subject to vicious Nazi reprisals against her people, trapped in a conflict that forced its way into their lives in a chaotic struggle amongst foreign soldiers, partisans and a new wave of repubblichinisoldiers of the Fascist puppet state of Northern Italy. And it was here, from the tall iron lampposts that circle Piazza Saffi that the bodies of La Banda Corbari were hung, a group of partisans executed after being captured by Nazis and denounced by Fascists. Such chilling cruelty, such inhuman actions. These were witnessed and endured in Forlì.

Standing here, in front of the San Mercuriale memorial, we see faces, names, dates. All are reminders that the suffering brought by war is intensely personal and its violence indiscriminate. In the broad wash of time, we so easily lose sight of the individual tragedies, and the little chance events from which life and death hang in the balance, woven within the savage machinery of war. It’s one such story that is remembered now.

[Interlude 1]

[Bitter Storm]

Narrator:

Following the armistice between Italy and the Allies in September 1943, the 8th and 5th Allied armies commenced an invasion of the Italian mainland and began to move north from the southern cities of Taranto and Salerno. As armies engaged in bitter combat, a nation was immersed in a chain of horrific destruction that thrust its way through cities and across the land.

War Correspondent 1:

Now you hear the roar of the bombers, they’re approaching now in from the sun right high above overhead is a Spitfire…

War Correspondent 2:

… takes the form of an all out air offensive against their forward positions and this attack is in progress before me as I speak to you. Very large numbers of planes are coming over, giving the German positions… dive bombers have gone and the artillery again takes up the pounding of the enemy forward positions…

War Correspondent 3:

And as the shells screamed down and the walls collapsed in gray powder around us we raced back to tell you, on the spot, the full nightmare of the war…

War Correspondent 1:

All down the hillside now the pounding grows in a multitude of vicious mounds of flame and smoke… Approaching now the target. Already a cloud of green smoke is rising from the center of the town which is evidently the point to be bombed. And there’s the load of the Boston attack just fell on the town and terrific black smoke is rising in amazingly thick columns spread over the whole area. And the sound of the actual explosions will reach you now.

War Correspondent 4:

We passed through village after village and every one of them bore the scars of the twin war machines which had smashed through them in these past few months. In the streets, black with churned up mud, and in the crumbling doorways of windowless, often roofless houses, I saw barefooted, ragged little children, faces pinched with cold and shivering against the cold rain. Often, as we passed through towns, I saw men and women digging in the ruins of their homes for something they might still call their own. … The gathering darkness added the last somber touch to this dismal scene of war. Here men had fought and died, and the air was full of the tragedy. Then, when we were only a few minutes from here, and we entered the approaches to this little town from where I’m talking a little procession came toward us. First there was the Priest striding quickly along in the rain. And behind him came four little boys all about 10 years old. They were carrying a very little coffin on their shoulders, and they were almost running to keep up with the priest. Behind them, coming from the front, a long convoy of 8th Army lorries followed, and didn’t try and pass.

[Ancient Tear]

L’albero a cui tendevi
la pargoletta mano,
il verde melograno
da’ bei vermigli fior,

nel muto orto solingo
rinverdì tutto or ora
e giugno lo ristora
di luce e di calor.

Tu fior de la mia pianta
percossa e inaridita,
tu de l’inutil vita
estremo unico fior,

sei ne la terra fredda,
sei ne la terra negra;
né il sol più ti rallegra
né ti risveglia amor.

[Poem “Pianto Antico”: Giosuè Carducci (1835-1907)]

[Winter]

Narrator:

The winter months of 1943-44 saw harsh weather — and extreme cold transformed the land into a frozen, inhospitable environment. To escape the cold many soldiers abandoned their usual sleeping place of a slit trench covered by a bivouac tent for whatever houses were nearby, bringing them into close contact with civilians. As towns and villages were destroyed, many Italian citizens became sfollatievacueesdispersed out of cities and into the countryside.

War Correspondent 1:

The heaviest fall of snow so far this winter has just taken place. The whole countryside is now a picture of winter, with bare brown trees and hedges carrying a pattern of snow over the white blanket beneath. The roads are churned to broken drifts of slush and ice, and all movement is becoming increasing difficult. As I speak to you, snow is still falling and it seems certain that settled winter conditions have fallen on the Italian front.

[Pippo]

Narrator:

For people caught in the sweep of this war, danger was everywhere. In the sky at night, over many parts of Northern and Central Italy reports of a phantom airplane, dubbed Pippo, symbolized the anxiety of civilians. It came only in darkness, sometimes without incident, sometimes dropping flares here and there, or explosives where a light might be shining. The droning presence of Pippo inflamed the fears of ordinary people — an invisible, looming threat that some were sure was American, while to others it was German, or even Italian. Pippo epitomized the identity of the enemy as something fluid and ambiguous — the destruction brought by strangers, and the menace fermenting within the nation.

[The Garden]

Narrator:

In the summer of 1944 a young woman, evacuated from the city, rode toward Forlì on her bicycle, looking for what was left of her family’s house, shattered in one of the first waves of Allied bombing. Along a country road, a black speck floated on the horizon and, suddenly, became an Allied fighter plane whose eyes saw this innocent figure as the enemy. She never knew just how it was that she escaped, but she rode on to find what was left of her home — gutted and strewn with remnants of the life they had left behind. And yet what she saw that day was that the garden had bloomed into a vibrant image of hope.

[A Little Italian Farm]

War Correspondent 3:

This is the story of a little Italian farm. Which, just for a day, found itself in the front line. At that moment it was simply point 098524, where two German machine guns had to be cleared up. It had no human personality as it were. It was just a map reference that would be passed and forgotten by the end of the day. Inside, the whole family were shelteri

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Written by: Giosue Carducci, John Young

Lyrics © Ymx média

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

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