The Nazi army’s departure from Italy 64 years ago remains a cause for celebration in the country. On Saturday, Italians will celebrate Liberation Day, what could be considered equivalent to the Fourth of July in the United States.
April 25 is the annual public holiday that celebrates the nation’s liberation from fascists and Nazis. It is marked by a military-based parade in Rome and community mayors laying wreaths at war memorials.
This year, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will observe the day in Onna, near the city of L’Aquila, which was devastated three weeks ago by an earthquake. His visit is symbolic, in that Onna, also hit hard by the quake that killed 40 of its residents, was the town in which Nazi forces massacred 16 people on June 11, 1944, — two days before the liberation of L’Aquila, according to news reports.
Italian Resistance movements against the Nazis and Mussolini-led fascists increased following the signing of the armistice in 1943. The "war of resistance," resistenza in Italian, led to the nation’s liberation from the oppressive forces. Laws used to mandate stores be closed for the holiday, but now it is up to business and shop owners to decide whether they will be open on April 25.