Monday, November 17, 2003

Anyone Feel Like We're Doing Something Wrong?


ROME, Nov. 17 — The sight was extraordinary, but less so than the sound, or rather the lack of it. Although thousands upon thousands of people filled one of this city's most chaotic squares during the evening rush hour on Monday, the decibel level seldom rose above a whisper's.

Silence was just one way in which those people sought to show their respect for 19 Italians killed in a suicide bombing in Iraq last week. Another was to wait two to three hours, in the drizzle and dark, for a chance to walk past the victims' coffins, arrayed inside a palace that towers over the square, Piazza Venezia.

The line went on and on, just like Italy's mourning.

This country's reaction to the casualties it suffered in the attack has been more than a modest, fleeting sob.

For days on end, Italy's leaders have delivered public statements as sweeping as soliloquies. Newspapers have been jammed with essays about slain heroes, and television reports have been filled with crying.