The aroma of stale fish lingers in the humid morning air as I race walk briskly along the docks in Anzio, Italy. The waterside cafes are closed. Their colorful, but torn and soiled, sun awnings flap in the gentle breeze. Surprisingly, the fleet of fishing boats are dark as if they haven’t been moved in years. I see a dim light close to shore.As I wobble closer I notice the lone fisherman sitting on what looks like a wooden crate. He is aboard a rundown older wooden boat painted the color of now decaying pink. The tiny craft is cramped with nets, polls and other debris. His dangling cigarette silhouettes his aging frame. “Bon journo”, I holler. The old fisherman waves without lifting his head from his work. I keep walking still bothered by the odor of fish.
By afternoon the sight of the thousand white crosses symmetrically arrayed in the meticulously manicured park each neatly inscribed with the name of a long dead American GI’s which finally makes me crack. Tears intermingled with sweat make me angry and sad. Emotion overwhelms my thoughts of the history of this place. More than 50 years have passed since the gallant Americans made their fateful assault on the beaches of this renowned town in an attempt to drive the Nazi’s and Facisists from Europe. And more than 2000 years earlier have elapsed since Nero sat lavishously on these same shores while ancient Rome was sacked and burned. This is the first time I cry while race walking.
A Sister City
I am Chairman of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and am leading a delegation of other business executives while we establish a sister city between Brooklyn and Anzio. There is work to be done. I still find time to race walk. I have the opportunity to meet many residents of Anzio and come to respect their culture, way of life and business acumen.