Annual POW wreath-laying ceremony held at Fort Devens
October 22, 2008
<b>DEVENS, Mass. Ac"a,! </b> Maples and other trees resplendent with the golden, red and orange leaves of autumn stood as a silent honor guard, while providing a dazzling backdrop for the annual German-Italian Prisoner-of-War (POW) wreath-laying ceremony held at the U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Devens cemetery, Oct. 18.
A small group of about 40 people gathered to remember and honor 20 German and two Italian POWs interned at the cemetery.
After the national anthems of Germany, Italy and America were sung, Lt. Col. Steven Nott, Fort Devens garrison commander assisted the German and Italian consuls general to lay wreaths in memory of soldiers buried on foreign soil.
Following a moment of silence and reflection, Fredrich Loehr, Consul General of Germany and Luigi Munno, Deputy Consul General of Italy spoke, both remembering the past and recognizing that once former enemies are now firm allies in the war on terror.
"Today's ceremony is a gesture of thanksgiving and reconciliation," said Loehr. "We morn the American Soldiers who died and the German and Italian soldiers who are buried here."
"Now Europe and America fight side-by-side against terrorism," said Munno. "I wish long life and friendship between Europe and America."
In 1942, the U. S. Army established a POW camp at Fort Devens with an initial capacity of 1,000 men. The camp finally opened in February 1944 and at the height of use, held 5,000 men. In May 1946, the camp was phased out and all the prisoners were repatriated to their homes in Europe, with the exception of the 20 German and two Italian soldiers who are still buried in the cemetery.