Dear Italians abroad,
it is with great emotion that today we commemorate the Marcinelle tragedy on its 67th anniversary.
In memory of the 262 victims of 11 different nationalities – of whom 136 were Italian nationals – who lost their lives in the mining accident.
Since 2001, on the anniversary of Marcinelle, the 8 August has also been celebrated as the “National Day of the Sacrifices of Italian Workers throughout the World”.
In this spirit, I wanted to be here in person at Marcinelle, on behalf of the Government, to pay tribute to the millions of Italians living outside their national borders and, in particular, to the Italian nationals who fell at work while contributing to the economic, social and cultural growth of Italy and the countries that had welcomed them.
This sad anniversary touches me personally in the deepest way: I spent part of my childhood abroad and spent several years of my political career in the European institutions. Several times in recent years, including during my presidential mandate at the European Parliament, I went to Marcinelle.
The Bois du Cazier is the symbolic site of the suffering and toil of Italian nationals. The sacrifice of those miners helped to strengthen awareness of the importance of ensuring adequate guarantees and safety at work.
It is a date that the Italian government wants to mark this year in a solemn way. We wanted to make today’s commemoration special with the homage of the overflight in the skies over Marcinelle of two Tornados of the Italian Air Force, in the year of its centenary.
It is a way of being closer to our communities, a testimony of the strong friendship of our Armed Forces, which every day fills all Italians with pride, working for the safety of us all, in Italy and abroad.
Belgium is a country in which there has been a strong Italian emigration, since the 1920s and mostly since the Second World War, and which still welcomes many Italians in the academic world, in the service sector as well as in business and scientific research.
The Marcinelle tragedy played a crucial role in laying the foundations of today’s Europe and European citizenship, inspired by the shared values of respect for human dignity, equality, democracy, and free movement of workers.
Values that today, more than ever, are indispensable to face global challenges together and to ensure peace, stability, security, economic growth, and prospects for young people.
The commemoration of Marcinelle is first and foremost for all of us the duty of remembrance. It is a duty that we honour with conviction every year, not least to pay tribute to the contribution of all Italians who have emigrated abroad to study or work, and of Italian-descendants, whom we want to bring back again to Italy with the “Roots Tourism” initiative, a qualifying part of our National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
To all Italian nationals abroad, on this important day, I renew my most sincere thanks, for the passion and commitment with which, on a daily basis, you continue to make Italy an ever-greater protagonist in the world.