The Boy in the War Zone

the morning we ascended to the roof and witnessed a stupefying spectacle of war: a tank battle at the San Fortunato ridge on the outskirts of town. As a boy, I was enthralled, insulated by my naïve recklessness. I was watching an exciting show with fire and brimstone unleashed just a few miles away. Puffs of smoke and the distant echo of heavy shelling made the scene almost surreal for us on the terrace. On the southwest salient — the Allied armored spearhead – the tanks of 5th Canadian and 1st British armored divisions were slugging it out with a few German tanks from the Panzer Grenadier division and the entrenched resistance. After those bloody encounters in the low hills, the 29th Panzer Division had practically nothing left. Its remnants were organized into small groups whose fierce resistance at the small village of Monticello allowed the main German body to withdraw. The next day, September 21st, the Greek Mountain Brigade occupied Rimini.

What happened in Rimini has haunted my memory throughout my life, and
I still wonder why my father let me carry on with my youthful foolhardiness. I believe that he wanted me to witness the destructiveness of war firsthand as an experience for my future, just as he had experienced it as a Navy man. At any rate, there was nothing that my father could do to protect me, as we were immersed in hostilities that spared no one. I confess
that I did not even pray. I know that my mother, a devout Catholic, did so silently. We just watched in awe the events that could spell our doom, but thanks to my father, we did not panic. Risk avoidance by civilians in war is an oxymoron. While I risked my life by being close to the action, it could not be said that I put myself in higher danger.

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