Expression of sympathy

When we planned a romantic visit to the Italian lakes area, we expected lake views, islands, gardens, great food and lots of wine. We did not expect to see a beautiful, modern monument honoring the victims of September 11.

On our visit in the first two weeks of September ’03, there were just 11 of us assorted Americans plus Patti, our guide and mentor. We all met in Milan and soon were transported by our driver, Matteo, to Lake Como, followed by Lake Maggiore and then the resort town of Stresa.

During the 19th century this town was one of the most elegant destinations in Europe, and the grand hotels with flower-draped balconies are still imposing. We stayed at the Palma Hotel and enjoyed a glorious view of Lake Maggiore and the Borromeo Islands with their gardens and palaces. The wedding season was in evidence with huge parties occurring on the lawns of every hotel along the promenade.

Walking early one morning, we crossed the street from our hotel to the lakeside park rimming the waterfront. There we came upon one of the simplest and yet most poignant monuments we have ever encountered.

The polished steel columns standing vertically were graphically representing stripes, and the cluster of stars in the upper corner completed an unmistakable American flag. The simple stone at the foot of the column read in both English and Italian: “THE PEOPLE OF STRESA IN EVERLASTING MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001.”

We have many wonderful memories of the lakes region of Italy, but surely the lasting one will be this visible monument to the grief and mourning shared by our Italian friends.

Reno, NV