Remembering the Italian Victims of 9/11

| Fri, 09/09/2011 - 06:19

The attacks of September 11th 2001 will long remain fixed in the memory of all those who witnessed the effects of the tragedies that day. The events feel fresh and the losses seem just as poignant, even 10 years later. If the passing of time has done little to soften the memory of that day, 10 years has also proved an insufficient amount of time to identify the Italian victims of the 9/11 attacks.

The lack of information regarding Italian casualties on September 11, 2001 has prompted one anonymous Internet user to conduct his own investigation. The main target of his campaign to recognize Italian deaths on 9/11 has been AVITER, the Italian Association of Victims of Terrorism.

While the AVITER website has a page dedicated to Italian victims of international terrorism, it only recently added a note alluding to the 9/11 attacks. An entry for September 11, 2001 reads (in Italian): “We are in the process of verifying the names of Italian victims of the World Trade Centre: 10 Italians and 270 Italian-Americans.”

It remains unclear why there is so much mystery concerning the names of the Italian 9/11 victims. According to an article that appeared in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, then-Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero revealed that there were 37 victims of Italian-origin who died in the attacks. He goes on to claim that (translated from Italian), “the names should remain top-secret because that is what the Americans want.”

Foreign Minister Ruggiero explained that of the 37 victims, 27 had dual passports and 10 had solely Italian passports. This could be where the oft-quoted number of 10 victims comes from, but it excludes the 27 other victims with dual citizenship.

More evidence that there were Italian victims of the 9/11 attacks comes from a variety of sources. The Italian Consulate in New York installed a remembrance plaque bearing an inscription dedicated to “Italian victims” of September 11. This generic allusion to Italian casualties was repeated by President Napolitano himself when he mentioned 10 unidentified victims in a 2008 memorial speech.

An AVITER employee has conducted his own research into the inconsistencies and provided more contradictory information regarding Italian fatalities on 9/11. He has uncovered a 2001 article from the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that lists names of suspected Italian victims, but can find no other identifying information published after the 27th of September 2001.

Even a decade later, little can be definitively said about the Italian lives impacted by the events of September 11, 2001. Yet, it is not only the victims, but also the survivors of the 9/11 attacks that must be acknowleged. An exclusive documentary on the History Channel reveals some details and give voice to Italian survivors of 9/11. The Italian language programme features interviews with Italians who were present in and around the Twin Towers on the day of the attacks.

While much mystery surrounds the Italian victims of that day, one image captures the undeniable grief of two Italian mothers: Rose Notaro and Anna Sereno, clutching photos of their children (opening picture, Notaro on the left, Sereno on the right). Daniela Notaro and Arturo Angelo Sereno died in the Twin Towers on September 11th.

Whether the identities of other victims will be revealed and confirmed remains to be seen but, as the tragic anniversary of the September 11th attacks approaches, citizens of the world, regardless of nationality, will join together to remember those who lost their lives.