A Day with James Pratt (February 4, 2017)

james pratt a sommocolonia

A welcome visit to Barga and Sommocolonia:  The visitor was James Pratt, son of Captain Charles Pratt, an African American officer who fought in our area during WWII. It was not the first visit by Mr. Pratt, a retired professor at Cornell University — he came twice before, in 2010 and 2015, to see the places where his father had lived the wartime conflict. This time, in addition to his wife Mildred and a colleague, he was accompanied by nineteen Cornell students, who came to touch, in this unknown place deep in Tuscany, the events of the Buffalo Division and its memory that the Barga community continues to value today.
The morning began at the Barga Comune with a greeting given by the Mayor Marco Bonini who had touching words to emphasize the ties between Barga to the United States and the events of the Liberation in the area. Then Sara Moscardini, Director of the Barga Chapter of the Lucca Historical Institute, gave a talk summarizing the Sommocolonia battle. Along with the Pratts’ Cornell group, the ceremony was attended by many citizens, administrators, members of the Barga section of the ANPI with its President Mauro Campani, and of course members of the Sommocolonia Recreational Association (ARS).
The day continued in Sommocolonia, with a convivial lunch at the Agriturismo Il Palazzo, (it was all good! a beautiful reception and a huge thank you to Leonardo and family by all those who attended the luncheon) and with a guided tour given by Massimo Nardini of the Museum to Peace, the village church and the monument to the Martyrs of the Resistance at Monticino. All this was much appreciated by the students despite the stormy weather. The visit to Sommocolonia was also an opportunity for the lively exchange of gifts. Mr. Pratt gave several objects to the museum, (something he has also done in the past), while he received copies of The Battle and the Bombardment of Sommocolonia: Live Testimony by Solace Wales and La Vacanza by Bernard Moscardini, recently published by the Association Cento Lumi.
We thank the Mayor Marco Bonini and all the comune administration, Sara Moscardini, precious collaborator, the Association Cento Lumi, the Barga ANPI with its president Mauro Campani, our friends from Cornell University — all the students, and especially James Pratt and his wife Mildred Warner— and last and but not least, our Italian-American friend, Gregory Smity, who helped in the communication between us and those of Cornell University.