Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WWII Rememberance

On our way to Germany this weekend with our hosts/friends C&J we visited the Henri Chapelle American Military Cemetary and Memorial for the soldiers who died in The Battle of the Bulge.
Back in the USA, Buttons and I go to story time at a local library where Miss R. reads to the children and does crafts with them as well. Shortly before we left, Buttons shared with the group that she was going to Belgium. Miss R. came to us later to inquire about our trip and told us that she'd like to go someday because her grandfather was buried in Belgium after dying in the Battle of the Bulge.
I asked her for the information on where he was buried and told her if at all possible I would try to visit his grave. This was in part for Miss R. who has been so good to Buttons, but I also wanted to pay my respects to the men and women who lost their lives and never came home.
We did visit his grave and the woman who worked there helped us well past closing time. She was kind and I could tell she really cared about the people who were buried here and their families back in the USA. We were given a packet of information to carry back to Miss R. which included a request for a picture of each of the men here so that the memorial could be personalized and live on for many generations. Then the woman took us to the grave sight, placed a Belgian flag and an American flag in front of his cross and then rubbed sand from the beaches of Normandy in the embedded name on the cross so it would show in pictures. C & J, our traveling companions, remembered to bring 2 white roses from their beautiful garden and I said a prayer as Miss R's mother had requested.
This place is beautiful and peaceful now. It's hard to imagine the pain and suffering that took place here 63 years ago, but when you look at the white crosses and the stars of David you don't forget. After the soldiers died, the families were given the choice of whether to bring their loved ones home or to have them buried here. I imagine I would have wanted to bring my loved one home, but having this site is an important remembrance and so I think I understand why many made the choice for a burial here.
After our visit it seemed a bit strange to head to Germany for our weekend of tasting wines on the Mosel, but thanks to the courage of these men and women along with many others, that's what we were able to do.

On our way back we visited Bastogne and the Mardasson Memorial. We took a tour through the museum and watched a film devoted to the Seige at Bastogne. The citizens of Bastogne were very kind to the soldiers by giving them shelter, providing sheets to use as winter camouflage, supplying food, hiding guns, ammunition, and sometimes soldiers. I have found that the hospitality of the Belgian people continues to this day. I wish these men and women didn't have to die, but I am glad to know some of their last moments were spent in a country so beautiful and welcoming.

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At June 17, 2008 at 1:58 PM, Blogger Tammy said...

What a beautiful and respectuful way to honor Ms. R's grandfather. You're awesome.

At June 17, 2008 at 2:38 PM, Blogger Katie J said...

Thanks Tammy, but honestly it was an honor to do it.

At June 17, 2008 at 4:49 PM, Blogger Robin said...

One of the things that struck me about Belgium was the fact that they still regard Americans as their heroes, even so many years after WWII. We were touched by our tour guide's comments and kind words.

At June 26, 2008 at 5:42 AM, Blogger cmm said...

Thank you for your pictures and talking about the battle of the bulge. My father was a survivor of this "event" in time. When I was younger, ha! until I was in my 40's he didn't talk of it much. Only only in bits and pieces now. I am looking forward to looking at the links you have provided.
Thanks again.


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