German and Italian soldiers remembered at ceremony
December 4, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Dec. 4, 2013) -- Members of the German and Italian community gathered at the Infantry Chapel annex Nov. 26 to remember the lives of fallen German and Italian soldiers buried at the Main Post Cemetery.
Fort Benning holds a memorial ceremony each year to honor the 44 German and seven Italian World War II prisoners of war, as well as bringing three nations together to remember the sacrifices of all Soldiers.
Thomas Wulfing, deputy consul general for the German consulate in Atlanta, and Maj. Massimilano Bar, the Italian liaison officer to the Maneuver Center of Excellence, spoke on behalf of their respective countries.
"May God give us the strength to continue as professional Soldiers and give a sense of comfort to our Families and our nations," Bar said.
The soldiers buried at Fort Benning all served in World War II and became prisoners of war after they were captured by the Allies between 1943 and 1946. Most of them died of accidental or natural causes while prisoners either in Missouri, South Carolina or Georgia POW camps.
Wulfing, who served as an officer with the German army from 1976 until 1982, said he is grateful for the freedoms that many Soldiers sacrificed their lives for.
"We must commemorate the heroes of that time and the heroes of today, the heroes in uniform who finally freed us from unspeakable horrors," Wulfing said. "Who didn't punish us but became our friends, and today we are close friends, allies and partners."
During the ceremony, wreaths for the soldiers were displayed followed by a playing of Taps and the national anthems for each nation.
The second Sunday before Advent marks the German memorial holiday Volkstrauertag, the Day of National Mourning that was established in 1952.
Each year on Nov. 4, Italians celebrate Giorno delle Forze Armate, Italian Armed Forces Day.
This day is a national day of unity, commemorating the Allied victory in World War I and honoring members of the Italian Armed Forces, past and present.