25 years have passed since that tragic 1992. It seems yesterday. It’s a lifetime ago. I will never forget the feelings of anger, despair and sorrow of that tragic May 23d when I learned that a bomb containing some five-hundred kilos of TNT had transformed that street of Capaci in a war scenario. Nothing will ever erase the memories of that summer day when a thunderous roar on Via D’Amelio pierced the apparent stillness of an ordinary summer Sunday, making it tragically unforgettable for the whole of Italy. The details of those events are so horrendous that I prefer not to recall them. In Italy, and in a large part of the world ,Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino are celebrated as heroes.
They are symbols honoured with respect and recognition:
I remember them as teachers from whom I learned a lot about the profession I carried out for 43 years. They were colleagues with whom I worked, friends with whom to make light of the bullet-proof life we had to endure, living together moments of extraordinary hope as well as utter disappointments, or sharing the few moments of relax that our work granted us.
I wish that they were remembered for their extraordinary professionalism, their talent as veritable outstanding figures, and that they were people just like anyone else. Giovanni, for example, always found a good excuse to have my wife Maria cook him a rice-and-broccoli soup. Paolo was so fond of simplicity that I still remember being taken aback seeing him going to the supermarket alone, without his police escort – unthinkable for a man who was a living target of the Mafia – kindly declining the proposal of those who, having recognised him, offered him to skip the checkout line.
Thus they should not be identified as heroes, for they would become unattainable models. Rather, it would be more accurate to depict them as they truly were: men like us but faithful to their ideals of law and justice, in the name of which they endured unspeakable afflictions and deplorable hardships, serving the State until the bitter end, even at the cost of their own life. They weren’t heroes. They were model citizens. We could all be like them, according to individual competences and possibilities.
We should all kneel before the mounds of earth that cover their graves, and promise that we will do everything possible to continue their work, to change and make our Italy – to which far too often we fail to convey the love it deserves – a better place.
In the past twenty-five years we obtained extraordinary results in the fight on organized crime, yet it would be wrong to say that we are satisfied and that our commitment to law and order has been fulfilled. There still is a long way to go, many truths needing to be unveiled and an equal number of injustices to be remedied.
The children born in the year of the massacres in Capaci and in Via D’Amelio have grown into adults, perhaps some of them already have children. For them I decided to walk down my personal and professional memory lane, with the hope of transmitting them the values and the ideals that guided my whole life. I decided to collect them in a book published by Feltrinelli, released a few days ago, titled “Storie di Sangue, Amici e Fantasmi” [Stories of Blood, Friends and Ghosts]. Stories of blood, which stained my Sicily and shattered the whole of Italy; of seemingly uncatchable ghosts like Provenzano; of friends, like Giovanni and Paolo. Some memories are painful, others make me smile, others still are frustrating: they all give me the strength and the determination to continue until the Mafia comes to its end.
(*) President of the Senate of the Italian Republic