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www.trains-and-trains.dk : A personal view by Christian Vinaa


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USA : The Merci Train : Italy - Italian gifts



"The Merci Train" - "The Gratitude Train" - "Train de la Reconnaissance Francaise"

Table of Contents :

Small stories :

David C. White - Farmer in Kansas Ruth Nathanson - High school senior from New York City


Individual states :
Bold = new content. (G) = can be seen on Google Streetview.

Arizona - Alabama - Arkansas (G) - California (G) - Colorado - Connecticut - Delaware (G) - Florida (G) - Georgia - Hawaii - Illinois - Indiana - Iowa (G) - Kansas - Kentucky - Louisiana (G) - Maine - Maryland - Massachusetts - Michigan - Minnesota - Mississippi - Missouri - Montana - Nebraska - Nevada - New Jersey - New Hampshire (G) - New Mexico - New York - North Carolina - North Dakota - Ohio - Oklahoma - Oregon (G) - Pennsylvania (G) - Rhode Island - South Carolina (G) - South Dakota (G) - Tennessee (G) - Texas - Utah (G) - Vermont - Virginia - Washington (G) - Washington DC - West Virginia (G) - Wisconsin - Wyoming (G).



Most of the information below has been collected from old newspaper articles.

While the Marshall Plan ( the official US-government help ) was directed at all European countries, the "Friendship Train" delivered food especially to France and Italy.

The French reception and the French reply - "The Gratitude Train" - received much if not all of the attention and the headlines and articles in the newspapers.

It is often forgotten that Italy also gave their gift to the USA. The gift from Italy is ironically perhaps one of the most viewed and still the most forgotten.

Remarkably it appears that Italy got the idea of a "thank you" gift to American as early as in January 1948.

Italy's gift to the USA was in fact 4 bronze equestrian statues that can be seen today just next to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

Two of those, "Valor" and "Sacrifice", stand on the Lincoln Memorial end of the "Arlington Memorial Brigde" connecting Washington DC with the state of Virginia.

The other two, "Music and Harvest" & "Aspiration and Literature", stand at the entrance to the "Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway" along the Potomac facing the Lincoln Memorial.

The story behind these 4 statues is very complicated. The statues had been planned since 1929 but due to political and financial / funding problems the statues hadn't even been casted by 1949.

Apparently the Italian government heard of these problems and in 1950 expressed their wish to use some of the funds from the Marshall help to get the statues finished using Italian foundries.

After still some problems the 4 statues were finally dedicated on September 26, 1951 by US President Harry S. Truman and the Italian Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi.

Read the article on Wikipedia.

The statues are named : "Valor" - "Sacrifice" & "Music and Harvest" - "Aspiration and Literature".

"Valor" - "Sacrifice" were created by Leo Friedlander. "Music and Harvest" - "Aspiration and Literature" by James Earl Fraser.

One inscription reads :
"Valor"
Leo Friedlander - Sculptor
Cast in bronze Milan 1950
A gift from the people of Italy
to the people of the United States of America

Italy also produced a movie to be shown as "news-reel" at movie-theatres all over the USA :
"Thanks America !" - Produced in 1948 - Directed by Domenico Paolella - Music By Raffaele Gervasio - Narrated by Orson Welles - Produced by INCOM.

My pictures of the 4 statues

Arlington Memorial Brigde :

italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge
Theodore Roosevelt Bridge :

italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge
italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge
italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge
italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge
italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge

italy italian gift friendship train gratitude statues Arlington Memorial Brigde Theodore Roosevelt Memorial

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