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DVIDS – News – Commentary: Belgium celebrates its past in Bastogne

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Durmen Tower Barracks, Germany – In my five years at the Benelux U.S. Army Garrison, this is my fourth visit to Bastogne, Belgium for the Battle of the Bulge commemorative event, and each visit has been better than the last. I can say without a doubt that there is.

Having the opportunity to participate in Battle of the Bulge anniversary celebrations and parades is one of my favorite things to do in Europe. I have had the honor of being part of the color guard that marches through the great city of Bastogne every year.

Having family members who fought on both the Allied and Axis sides, I found myself with great respect for those who fought and died at Bastogne. Being part of both cultures that were at war with each other not too long ago is a powerful reminder of the complexity of history and the resilience of human connection.

This year’s weekend visit to Bastogne was spread over two days, giving us the opportunity to explore the site of the battle and learn about the history of the area.

Our first day started early in the morning in the 101st (Easy Company) trenches. Visiting this site gave me a small glimpse of what it was like all those years ago. But I don’t think the situation is as dire today as it was 79 years ago. It was a privilege, as it is every year, to come to such a sacred place and get a glimpse of history.

The next stop on the list is the Bastogne War Museum. With so much to see, we started by learning a little more about the soldiers who fought in Bastogne and the civilians who lived in and around Bastogne.

I was able to see what life was like for the civilians who lived there and understand why even modern people are so proud of this area. The sense of unity between the local community and the members remains as strong as ever.

At the end of our first day in Bastogne, some of the soldiers and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and speak English with some of the École Communale de Mageret class at Mageret Elementary School. It was an honor to answer the children’s many questions about life in the US military and my work in the military.

On Saturday, Dec. 16, USAG Benelux soldiers took part in the annual Bastogne Historical Perimeter Walk, which spreads out around Bastogne and where the most violent parts of the Battle of the Bulge took place. This is a great experience every year that allows you to get to know the culture and camaraderie of Bastogne and the various military and civilians who participate in this event.

The formal part of the day was the parade, a key moment where I was responsible for leading the color guard through the city. The experience was an honor as it was my first time in a position like this.

The response from the Bastogne community was particularly pronounced. Their support and gratitude was not only touching but also highlighted the strong bond between visitors and locals. This interaction was a highlight of the visit and fostered a sense of connection and hope for similar opportunities in the future.

As I concluded my visit to Bastogne, I reflected on my gratitude for the sacrifices of the soldiers during the siege and the importance of preserving this history. At USAG Benelux, we honor Bastogne’s historical heritage and cherish our time here.

additional resources

Check out additional commemorative footage on our Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usagbenelux/albums/72177720313399881

Read more about the Battle of the Bulge in our archives: https://home.army.mil/benelux/index.php/my-fort/news/battle-bulge-101

Obtained data: December 19, 2023
Post date: December 19, 2023 08:47
Story ID: 460306
position: Dalmen, northwest Delaware
home town: Seattle, Washington, USA

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