March 20, 2014 — There is a scene in THE TAIL GUNNER that takes place in the hills of Rovereto, Italy, where the Maria Dolens, a giant bell made from World War I cannons stands. The massive bell is known as the Campana dei Caduti or “the bell of the fallen.” I post a video of the bell here today in honor of all those who have been lost in wars across the planet.
The area where the bell stands was bombed heavily during WWII, its rail lines targeted by the 12th Army Air Corps. Axis flak guns were hidden among the hills and Dad wrote of “bookoo flak” and “six ’chutes seen” after a particularly difficult mission. At that time, Italy was occupied by German forces, making it a target for British and American armies. Consequently, buildings had been bombed, strafing runs had ripped apart small towns, and yet from the rubble of liberation, this bell of honor and hope emerged.
When I first saw this video and saw the procession of battle-torn men that encircle the body of the bell, a vision came to mind. I saw hundreds of spirits passing under the bell and into the dusk. The bell was the great gathering place; the great gateway to peace. This is the place, in the book and in life, where the living and the dead part.
For all those touched by war, I share with you the “Bell of the Fallen.”
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