National Monument for the Dead of the Second World War
When German submarines attacked Brazilian vessels, Brazil no longer could maintain its neutral status during the Second World War. In Natal, the air force base was of strategic importance for flights from the American continent to Europa and Africa. Brazil assembled an expeditionary force – with help from the Americans – and sent the FEB to Italy. The Brazilians were incorporated in the American divisions on their way to the north of Italy. The FEB managed to conquer an important strategic location: Monte Cassino. The more than 25 thousand men fought against Germans and Italian, thereby capturing more than 20 thousand men. The FEB lost 462 men, 2064 were wounded, and 35 were captured by the enemies. Besides the infantry, the air force also contributed with more than 400 missions.
Commander of the FEB force, Marechal JOÃO BAPTISTA MASCARENHAS DE MORAES, took the initiative for the national monument and for the repatriation of the corpses that were buried in Italy. Construction of the Monument was started on 24 July 1957, the inauguration took place on 5 August 1960. The monument was designed by Marcos Konder Netto and Hélio Ribas Marinho, and contains artistic works by Júlio Catelli Filho, Alfredo Ceschiatti and Anísio Araújo de Medeiros.
The Brazilian Veteran’s Day (Dia dos Ex-Combatentes) is on 2 May.