Belgians, Americans to Celebrate Anniversary of Landmark Victory
By Kevin Downey
Special to American Forces Press Service
CHIÈVRES, Belgium, Dec. 1, 2009 Sixty-five years after World War II's landmark Battle of the Bulge, U.S. and Belgian troops will again march side by side in Bastogne on Dec. 12 and 13.
Veterans and servicemembers from both nations are scheduled to join thousands of well-wishers, including town officials, dignitaries and local residents, in commemorating the Allied forces' victory in the famous World War II battle.
"The traditional carnival-like atmosphere in Bastogne over the weekend celebrates the historic grit and determination of our two nations' veterans 65 years ago, and the solemn ceremony at the Mardasson Memorial overlooking the city honors the great sacrifices our countrymen have made," said U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Commander Col. James P. Drago. "The spirit of which our Benelux community shares with the citizens of Bastogne demonstrates the undying bond between our Allied nations."
The Battle of the Bulge, which lasted from Dec. 16, 1944, to Jan. 25, 1945, was the largest land battle involving American forces in World War II. More than a million Allied troops fought in the battle across the Ardennes, including about 500,000 Americans and 55,000 British. More than 19,000 U.S. troops were killed in action.
The schedule of events for Dec. 12 includes the 32nd Historical Walk, with marches of 8, 12, 16 or 23 kilometers starting in Bastogne, followed by a parade, commemorative ceremony and wreath laying at Gen. Patton's Monument and McAuliffe Square. Historical re-enactments will be held in the evening, along with a memorial ceremony honoring the more than 75,000 U.S. soldiers killed or wounded during the Battle of the Bulge.
On Dec. 13, there will be a paratrooper drop at the Mardasson Memorial at 11 a.m. local time.
(Kevin Downey works for U.S. Army Garrison Benelux public affairs.)