What do Robert E. Lee and Giuseppe Garibaldi have in common?

Well, to begin with they are both heroic figures respectively, of the American “Civil War” and the Italian Risorgimento. Both are military leaders: General Lee, although personally against slavery commanded the Army of Virginia and fought for “Dixieland” because he could not and would not draw his sword against his fellow Virginians, General Garibaldi, a soldier of fortune and guerrilla freedom fighter with a disdain for royals did not hesitate to lend his sword to the House of Savoy in its bid to unify the states of the Italian peninsula because he valued Unity above all other considerations of a political or institutional nature. But what these two larger-than-life figures had most in common was their determination and unswerving loyalty to their men and the ideals in which they believed. Lee fought for the American South’s right to self-determination, a loosing cause to be sure, while Garibaldi fought against Italy’s “Dixieland” for (what he believed to be for) the greater good of all Italians, be they northern or southern, Unity.

Ever since I was a youngster growing up in the New York Metro Area, I had always felt that beneath the surface America and Italy were similar in many ways. America, the modern melting pot; Italy, the melting pot of antiquity. Take the North-South divide: the similarities here are countless. At the end of 2014 a trilogy of articles on the American Mezzogiorno appeared on the online magazine, “The Globalist” (www.theglobalist.com), which led me to think about and write my piece on “The Italian Mezzogiorno: A Mediterranean Dixieland”. Let me know what you think.


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