1970 - Military Academy of Modena: silence out of order

(To Louis Chiavarelli)

We had just returned from the summer camp that took place in the Ligurian mountains. Tanned, full of the health of twenty years strengthened by a month of life in the open air, excited for the end of that second year of the Academy that would have projected us to the officer's star and to another life, we hoped less hard, at the Weapon Application Schools of Turin.

A hint of sadness surfaced at times. Many of Corso's brothers would have taken different paths, a profound bond had been established with the superiors and in greeting them we all had tears in our eyes.

Even leaving that ancient, glorious palace, full of history and traditions, was not as easy as we would have thought. A fundamental chapter of our life was closing, two years that had transformed us from carefree students into soldiers.

There was satisfaction, cheerfulness, lightheartedness. The Corsican Chief introduced himself to the Commander of the Academy to ask that that evening, the last from Allievi, the Silence be played out of order, certain that that little deviation from the regulations would be granted. It was not expected but it was an unwritten tradition that those sad but meaningful notes wished the students good night, before their definitive departure from the Institute.

It was a deeply felt tradition that we all cared a lot about. It was the seal of two very intense years that had profoundly changed our lives. Nobody expected the Corsican leader to return with a sad and perplexed face.

"We don't talk about it" the Commander had said "Silence out of order is the stuff of najoni, not of gentlemen officers as you are now". In a brusque manner, which was absolutely not in harmony with his usual behavior, he had dismissed him.

The fact saddened us and not a few harbored not exactly serene feelings towards our Commander. We felt cheated of something we cared about, which we felt we had earned with two very hard years of study and sacrifices.

Obviously we made up our minds, we were used to something else, but that evening dinner was not as cheerful as it should have been and the usual laughter, songs and jokes typical of the last night at the Academy did not echo in the dormitories. After the confrontation, we went to bed silently in the dark, with eyes wide open, while thoughts and memories followed one another in our minds and our hearts were beating fast.

It was over, it was hard but we made it. A thousand thoughts fluttered in the head. How many memories, how many times had we been on the verge of giving up everything! How many good and bad moments to remember, to keep in the heart as sacred things not to be lost over the years.

We waited for the usual sizzle of the speakers, the discharges and the typical noises produced by the operators at the turntable that would soon invite us to sleep with the usual silence. But nothing happened and the minutes passed. Not even the usual silence was granted to us ?!

Then, suddenly, a sweet melody began to spread. At first we hardly noticed, but then our heart started beating fast. But it didn't come from the speakers but from the courtyard. In unison we ran to the windows and threw them open with fury. We couldn't believe it. The whole fanfare of the 8th Bersaglieri Regiment, feathers in the wind, was dedicating to us the poignant notes of the out-of-order Silence. It was the gift of our Commander, a beautiful, unexpected, moving gift. It was magnificent.

Few could hold back the tears. A thunderous heartfelt applause rained from the crowded windows of the dormitories on those good Bersaglieri when the last note left our hearts. Shouts of Viva l'Accademia! Long live the Bersaglieri! Long live the Commanding General!

Now we could leave Mamma Accademia with a serene heart. Our Commander had given us the last lesson: sometimes the heart comes before the regulations. We would never forget it again.