CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A group of Mount Notre Dame High School students made history in Italy this week, honoring Hamilton County soldiers who were killed in World War II.
The kids are abroad for a Model UN Conference and to further their work on Operation Anzio. They've been going non-stop ever since touching down in Rome this past Wednesday.
Operation Anzio was started by Mount Notre Dame students this past summer. The project aims to identify Cincinnati soldiers buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Anzio, Italy.
There are 26 Hamilton County soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Italian campaign of World War II.
"There are 22 students at MND who are working actively to research and find the living family members of these men, get in contact with them and be able to tell their stories, so that their memories are not forgotten," said Mount Notre Dame social studies teacher Ben Hunt, who is also their Academic Development Coordinator.
Along with a large floral wreath that reads, "Always remember," students placed a flower at each grave and read a sacred verse, reflecting on the lives of the men while Taps played.
They also documented each headstone, taking photos of each one.
Many of the soldiers have no families left or anyone who could afford to make the trip to visit the graves.
"It's just very inspirational and changing," said student Lauren Ulland. "All of the different graves, the different names, where they're from and the day that they died, it brings you down to the core, like wow, these people were all fighting for me, for my country, for my freedom."
The students threw coins over their shoulders into the famous Trevi Fountain. It's supposed to bring luck, and this case, perhaps, closure for Cincinnati families whose loved ones are buried at the cemetery.
"Truly, eye-opening," said Ulland. "So, to get the opportunity to show, to lay down flowers at the grave, to show that someone back home is thinking about them, it's really important."
The project has been in contact with six of the 26 families as of Monday, and students are still working on the rest. Click or tap here if you think you can help locate the families of these soldiers.
The students hope to create museum-style panels, with pictures and the back stories of those men who are buried in Italy, to display in Cincinnati.