On April 28, 1945, American troops of the 88th Infantry Division fought against German soldiers in the city in northeastern Italy.
Mion was barely a teenager when the battle migrated to her village of San Pietro. When German soldiers opened fire near her farm, she hid with her mother in the attic.
When she awoke the next morning, American troops had taken the freshly baked birthday cake her mother had left for her on their windowsill.
At least 19 American soldiers were killed or wounded during the battle, and several American tanks were destroyed. Subsequently, the people of Vicenza bonded with the US military, greeting the soldiers with bread and wine.
‘I’ll never forget’
Military personnel worked with the United States National Archives to obtain period combat film and footage of the fighting that took place in the city.
The images, which were shown during the ceremony, also document the friendship between the US military and the people of Vicenza after the fighting slowed down.
“This warm welcome by the people of Vicenza continues to this day,” said Gomlak, a commander of the US Army Garrison in Italy.
Speaking of Mion’s reaction to his cake being stolen after the initial joy of his birthday, he added, “His happiness turned to disappointment later when the resourceful American soldiers made off with his birthday cake.”
“It makes me feel good to give him the cake,” said Wallis, a military police soldier.
Mion wiped tears from her eyes as hundreds of onlookers, including American and Italian soldiers, veterans, police and local residents, watched the emotional exchange.
“Tomorrow we will eat this dessert with all my family in memory of this wonderful day that I will never forget,” Mion said.