Enjoying a family fun day to celebrate the nation's birthday
July 18, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany -- A little rain -- OK, a lot of rain -- didn't dampen spirits at the community's Independence Day bash at the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center July 3.
As more and more people streamed into the area to enjoy rides, food, live music and fireworks, the skies slowly opened up welcoming neighbors for a day of friendship and celebration.
"I'm happy to be here with you on my second day in office," said Wiesbaden's new Lord Mayor Sven Gerich during the official opening ceremony.
Gerich joined Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, U.S. Army Europe commander, and Col. David Carstens, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, in tapping a keg to get the party started.
Describing how Germans and Americans have been intertwined for decades, Gerich said, "For me it's very important to see Americans and Germans living together, not just next to each other."
The new senior city administrator pointed out the various partnerships between the Wiesbaden military and host nation communities, saying he was pleased to see Americans enjoying the various opportunities in and around Wiesbaden. He recalled former times when German-American friendship fests were a common occurrence at Camp Lindsey (now the Europa Viertel) and said he hoped the city and military community would work together to make similar events a regular event.
USAREUR's commander also noted the close ties and enduring friendships established in Wiesbaden, and asked everyone present to remember "the sacrifices that our Soldiers are still making every day" in Afghanistan and other places around the world during the July Fourth holiday.
Members of the West Hessen Police Band were on hand to perform the national anthems of both nations to pay tribute to the occasion. The garrison's commander thanked host nation emergency responders, including the Polizei, for their tireless efforts at helping safeguard the men, women and children of the USAG Wiesbaden community.
As the rain came and went throughout the day, it didn't stop the flood of young people who came to enjoy a range of free amusements from bumper car rides to carousels, the drop tower to a tiny train for younger visitors. Members of the Sergeant Major Association (editor's note: see below for more information on the association) were on hand with American eats, representatives from local tourist offices handed out useful travel tips and giveaways, Outreach Kontakt members offered cake and coffee, and any number of fellow volunteers spent the day helping make sure community members were well fed, entertained and informed.
Fireworks wrapped up the Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation-sponsored celebration filling the skies with a visual reminder of what Independence Day represents -- a beacon first envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and their fellow founders to create a nation where freedom, democracy and liberty would stand tall and continue to shine for years to come. (Editor's note: The Wiesbaden Sergeant Majors Association recently formed to take the reins from the outgoing Heidelberg Sergeant Majors Association. New members are always welcome, according to a representative. It is open to U.S. service members (all services) in the ranks of E-8 (promotable) and above and to international partner service members in the ranks of E8 and above. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)