WASHINGTON (November 5, 2012)
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the Embassy of Italy. My special greetings go to: The Secretary of the Army,
The Hon. John McHugh, The Vice Chief of the Army, General Lloyd Austin, The Principal Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, The Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Letitia Long and to all the distinguished representatives of the Joint Staff and of the different Services, who are with us today.
First of all, my sincere appreciation to all of you for being here: your presence proves your respect for the Armed Forces of my Country, for the men and women fallen or wounded in the line of duty, and for their families. By being here, you also honor those who serve today with selfless commitment and dedication.
It is thanks to these heroes that our two Countries can enjoy those fundamental values of freedom, democracy, rule of law and promotion of human rights, which form the very essence of our nations.
I am grateful to Major General Giovanni Fantuzzi, and to all the officers and members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri who serve at the Italian Embassy, for making this event possible.
We are proud to have you here, as part of our team.
Italians remember the end of World War One on November 4th, a date which has long been proclaimed Victory Day and the day of National Unity.
That day marked the end of a victorious but bloody conflict.
It also marked the conclusion of a journey which had started with the Italian Risorgimento: we must recall how important the completion of that process of unification, and the liberation of all Italian territories, were in those fall months of 1918.
The core values which our Countries fought for in the past are still the values which motivate our forces today:
– Whether they serve in Afghanistan – where Italy has been present from the very start of the ISAF operation, and where we still have about 4.000 troops
– Or in Lebanon, where Italy has the command of UNIFIL,
– Or yet in the Balkans, where Italy has been since 1999 and is still active today in KFOR.
The close friendship that binds Italy and the United States is made all the stronger by the deeply rooted bonds between our Armed Forces. I sense it every day.
Whether it was during my time at NATO, or now in meetings with my interlocutors at the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the State Department, or with representatives of the Defense industry: the importance of these ties was and remains ever present.
We are committed to continuing to strengthen these ties at all levels. I would like to conclude my brief remarks with a reference to something important which will start in the next few weeks. As you may know, 2013 will be the “Year of the Italian Culture in the United States”.
This will not merely be a cause for celebrating and promoting Italy’s traditions and innovation in their many facets: above all, I am confident it will be another opportunity to further strengthen those very special bonds that join our two great countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your presence at our Armed Forces Day.
Viva l’Italia, e viva gli Stati Uniti!