ANSBACH, Germany (Nov. 19, 2013) -- It was a cold evening Nov. 17. Approximately 200 attendees gathered beside the St. Johannis church in downtown Ansbach, where fiery torches served as the only light. The assembly was there to remember the victims of war, violence, deportation and terrorism of the past and present throughout the world.
On any other given day, pedestrians might walk past without a second glance at the monument along the church wall. However, on Volkstrauertag, literally "People's Mourning Day," delegates of the German Bundeswehr reservists, German veterans' associations, American Legion, Post 1982 and the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach assembled in front of it to pay their respect to the fallen.
The day is celebrated throughout Germany the second Sunday before Advent Sunday, which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day.
Ansbach's Lord Mayor Carda Seidel reminded the audience that "even though peace and freedom have become reality for Germany 68 years after the end of World War II," there are still wars raging in other countries with the civilian population suffering terribly. The ceremony, according to Seidel, is there to serve as a reminder to "champion a world without war, terror or displacement."
"It's important to the American Legion to participate in such community ceremonies, especially because Post 1982's motto is 'Helping Veterans, their Families and the Ansbach community,'" said Master Sgt. Christopher Buchanan, commander of American Legion, Post 1982. "And as veterans and Soldiers serving and living in the Ansbach community, it's also important to the American Legion to bond with the German community and share their customs."
Delegates from USAG Ansbach included Col. Christopher M. Benson, commander of the garrison.
After the remarks and prayers, each delegation placed a decorated wreath in a designated spot while a brass ensemble from Schalkhausen played soft music. The hushed audience listened as a lone trumpeter played "Taps" into the night before the ceremony closed.