Incredible as it might seem, politics is not my only interest. I am also a member of an on-line audio enthusiast forum called The Classic Speaker Pages.

Like most well-developed Internet discussion forums, Classic Speakers has a strong international component. Several posters to the forum are from Italy. My daughter Ella lives in Italy (fluent, obviously), and with Ella’s help, I’ve answered several detailed questions in Italian and posted a few translated articles originally written in Italian.

Will this eventually come around to having anything to do with American politics? Why, yes it will…..

Because of my involvement with the Speakers forum, I’ve struck up an e-mail friendship with a member from Rome named Adriano, completely independent of the Classic Speakers website. I didn’t have a chance to visit with him last time I was in Italy (2009, when Ella got married), but we just visited Ella and her husband in late May. This time, we made arrangements in advance to spend an extra day in Rome so we could meet and listen to his speakers.

Adriano is a wonderful guy—bright, friendly, and engaging. His English was less than perfect (and my Italian non-existent), but as is often the case in these situations, we had no trouble understanding each other.

After he picked us up at our hotel, we had lunch at a delightful little corner “joint.” The food and wine were incredible, the service unrushed (Italy’s only speed, I’m convinced), the setting as genuine and untouristy as could be.

Getting back into his nimble little Nissan Qashqai (a pint-sized SUV, smaller than the US Nissan Rogue, perfect for Rome’s urban traffic warfare), Adriano told us he’d take us on a quick tour of Rome before we went back to his place to listen to his speakers.

We saw many great sites and stopped at this scenic overlook that displayed the city in all its beauty. Adriano is 50, several years younger than me. He has no direct connection to World War II. The topic of the War hadn’t been brought up by either of us at any point all day.

While he was pointing out some of the notable Rome landmarks from the overlook, he added, “And there, about twelve miles to the right, is where the Americans landed at Anzio during World War II. We Italians will never forget what you Americans did for us, getting rid of the Nazi’s.”

Then he added that his father, a private Italian citizen—quite young at the time—went to the American Command and told them where the German troop strength was concentrated in Rome, and where there were only token German forces. Adriano knew that it was the US 5th Army under General Mark Clark, he knew that General Lucian Truscott was a significant US commander subordinate to Clark, and he knew that the Germans were commanded in Italy by Field Marshall Albert Kesselring. He tossed off this knowledge and understanding of the War and its direct relevance to today as easily as if he were just breathing.

Now, I’m a history buff and I know WWII and its importance quite well. I was stunned by Adriano’s knowledge and understanding of America’s role in the Italian Theater. Stunned. How many American adults would have a similar understanding and appreciation of those events and our role in shaping today’s world?

When we got to his apartment, I quickly shifted into “spy” mode. Adriano took us to ‘his’ room, the room in the apartment where all his equipment is, where all his stereo magazine archives are, etc. In other words, this would be the place where he’d have any special hobby collections that were of particular importance to him. He’s also a photography enthusiast, and photo books and old cameras lined the shelves.

I looked around for evidence of WWII history books, special editions, photos, anything that would reveal or explain his knowledge of American-Italian World War II history.

There was none. None to be seen, anywhere.

It appeared that Adriano simply held the views he had because America freeing Italy from the Nazi’s grip was such a huge event in that country’s history that people—everyday people, like Adriano—simply know about it. It’s still a big part of their life, even generations after the fact.

He’s a typical ‘liberal’ European—he espoused a liking for the American Kennedy family, he admires President Obama’s speaking ability and aura, he said that he finds he favors the Democrats more than the Republicans…….but yet, this oh-so-typical liberal European knew exactly what America did to save Italy and added, “we will never forget it.”

The comparison and contrast between Adriano and far too many Americans regarding America’s historical accomplishments and her role in the world is too obvious and too sad.

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