By U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Public Affairs
More than 500,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces lost their lives during World Wars I and II. More than 14,000 are buried in Belgium and 8,000 in The Netherlands.
U.S. Army Garrison Benelux service members and host nation partners commemorated those who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War II. This third album features photos and stories of World War II observances throughout our footprint from November 2019 to January 2020.
Honoring War heroes on Nov. 11
In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I hostilities ended. Nov. 11 became Armistice Day, a universally recognized day of commemoration honoring not only the military victims of both wars but also the civilian ones. In the United States, Nov. 11 is called Veterans Day, an opportunity to remember and thank veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Dec. 13 to 16: Bastogne commemorated the 75th anniversary of THE Battle OF THE BULGE
People from around the world gathered in Bastogne, Belgium, Dec. 13 to 16, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. American, British, Canadian, French, Luxembourgian and Belgian forces fought the Germans in the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium from December 16, 1944 through January 25, 1945. U.S. Army Garrison Benelux service members, leaders, and community members participated in the anniversary events.
42nd Bastogne Historic Walk
The 42nd Bastogne December Historic Walk occurred on Saturday, Dec. 14 and brought the participants in the footsteps of the 101st Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge.
COMMEMORATION OF THE SIEGE OF BASTOGNE
In addition to the walk, a patriotic parade began at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. The event brought together veterans, associations, dignitaries, students, Belgian and U.S. military platoons and veterans.
Distinguished guests and leaders laid wreaths at the Patton monument during the first ceremony. The monument is dedicated to Gen. George S. Patton Jr., who broke the siege of Bastogne in December 1944. The monument stands at the Merceny Square.
Another formal wreath-laying ceremony was held on Bastogne's McAuliffe Square, where a memorial is dedicated to the memory of Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, defender of the city in 1944.
‘Jet de Noix’ (throwing of the nuts)
In December 1944, Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, Commander of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, was defending the besieged town during the Battle of the Bulge. He famously replied ‘Nuts’ to the Germans when petitioned by them to surrender on Dec. 22, 1944. Chance had it that General McAuliffe's exclamation of Nuts fell just at the time when, traditionally, Bastogne was celebrating the Walnut Fair before the war. Each year, the city of Bastogne immortalises the famous response with the throwing of nuts from the city’s town hall building.
American veterans, "VIP's of our freedom"
Veterans were the VIPs of the commemorations. After the nut throwing, a ceremony paid tribute to the 30 veterans present and their fallen comrades.
"Those who sacrificed their lives in this battle deserve more than our thanks. Our essential duty to remember goes beyond the familiar cry "Never again" - Benoît Lutgen, Mayor of Bastogne
Dec. 15: the “Flag of Friendship Ceremony” honored the service and sacrifice of the veterans
The town of Saint-Vith, Belgium, suffered heavily during the Battle of the Bulge. Being in the front lines of the offensive from Dec. 16, 1944 to Jan. 23, 1945, it was the target of endless shelling and aerial bombing, causing almost total destruction. Each year, the “Flag of Friendship Ceremony” honors the service and sacrifice of the veterans of the Battle of the Bulge.
Dec. 15: Never Forget the Malmedy Massacre
The USAG Benelux Soldiers and Command Group participated in the commemoration of the Massacre of Baugnez. On Dec. 17, 1944, the German fighting unit (Kampfgruppe) Peiper killed 84 U.S. prisoners of war at the crossroads of Baugnez near Malmedy, Belgium.
Dec. 15: Schönberg Inaugurated a monument for Prisoners of War
On Dec. 15, 2019, a new monument was inaugurated in the village of Schönberg, Belgium. The memorial tells the story of how approximately 7,000 GI’s of the U.S. 106th Infantry Division were captured in and around Schönberg, after being surrounded for several days and having suffered many casualties in the heavy fighting. The monument stands near the bridge across the Our River and is dedicated to all Prisoners of War.
The unveiling took place in the presence of several World War II veterans, family members of veterans of the 106th Division and its attached units, as well as local and military dignitaries. Veteran Herb Sheaner, who unveiled the monument, was captured here in December 1944.
Dec. 22: Vielsam remembered the Battle of Parker's Crossroads
On Sunday, Dec.22, 2019, the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux color guard and a command group representative participated in a ceremony in Vielsam, Belgium. The event marked the 75th anniversary of the fight that occurred at Parker's Crossroads in December 1944.
Jan. 10: Zutendaal commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Legend of Y-29
The Zutendaal community gathered in a big crowd to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Legend of Y-29, a major aerial battle during the Luftwaffe's Operation Bodenplatte in January 1945.
Jan. 21: Saint-Vith celebrated Its liberation
The ceremony celebrated the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Saint-Vith.The "Liberation Column South" paraded through Saint-Vith and continued its route to Lanzerath, Honsfeld, and Elsenborn. School classes were invited.