Mannheim Celebrates the New Year
January 17, 2008
MANNHEIM, Germany - Nearly 400 German and American guests gathered Jan. 11 at the Federal Academy of Defense Administration and Technology for a New Year's reception highlighting the Mannheim military community.
The event - co-hosted by Brig. Gen. Susan Lawrence, commander of the 5th Signal Command, and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Fletcher, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Manheim - is an annual tradition, drawing attendees from throughout the area, including members of Fasching, or Carneval Clubs, who are in full swing of celebrating Germany's so-called "fifth season."
Mannheim's Fasching City Princess, Jennifer I., presented her campaign medal to Lawrence as a German-American friendship token, along with Viernheim's City Princess, Meike I., and her Fasching Club delegation.
During her remarks, Lawrence, who is also the Mannheim senior mission commander, praised the well-established rapport between the U.S. military and Mannheim's citizens, adding that she and her husband Neil "feel privileged" to having had the opportunity to experience the "Mannheim experience" before, as she formerly served as the 7th Signal Brigade commander.
She said: "It is almost as if a magnet keeps pulling me back to Mannheim; then again, perhaps it's not just a personal force in my life ... perhaps it's just the magnetism of this beautiful metropolitan region of Rhein-Neckar and its wonderful people."
She reminded the audience of ongoing deployments downrange, thanking attendees for their gestures of solidarity to U.S. Soldiers and families, asking for their continued support of the Mannheim Military Community, especially for those families whose military members are serving in harm's way in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere in the world.
"We appreciate your prayers, comfort, and many courtesies everyday."
In her outlook on 2008, Lawrence highlighted two events in March - the 50th anniversary of the Army Signal presence in Europe and the 50th anniversary of the International Albert-Schweitzer Youth Basketball Tournament. She also expressed hope that "our stories and our communities will continue to intertwine for years to come as Defense Secretary Robert Gates reviews the need to keep a larger (military) population in Europe for the foreseeable future."
Many uniformed attendees echoed her feelings of this "is truly a great time to be a U.S. Soldier serving in Europe, and ... there is no better place to serve than Mannheim, Germany," which brought a round of applause from the crowd.