By Christophe Morel, USAG Benelux Public AffairsNovember 1, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- On Oct. 27, in Waregem, Belgium, the Flanders Field American Cemetery hosted a ceremony to observe the centennial of American operations in Belgium during World War I.
Ronald J. Gidwitz, U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, William M. Matz, American Battle Monuments Commission Secretary, relatives of WWI Soldiers, and Belgian officials gathered to remember those who died during World War I, also called the Great War.
The Flanders Field American Cemetery is the only World War I American cemetery in Belgium. Three hundred sixty-eight U.S. Soldiers are buried in Waregem. The SHAPE International Band played before and during the ceremony. The public also heard John McCrae's classic war poem called "In Flanders Fields."
ARMISTICE DAY EVENTS
In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I hostilities ended. Nov. 11 became Armistice Day, a universally recognized day of commemoration honoring not only the military victims of both wars, but also the civilian ones. Many Belgian cities will host a commemoration Nov. 11, but also Nov. 10 and the following weekend.
These are just a few of the many events planned in Belgium:
Saint-Symphorien: A commemorative ceremony organized jointly by SHAPE and the city of Mons will be held at the military cemetery to remember the victims of the Great War. The ceremony will start at noon on Avenue de la Shangri.
Ville-sur-Haine: The town of Le Roeulx will inaugurate a new memorial in honor of Soldier George Price. The ceremony will start at 3 p.m.
Casteau: During this ceremony organized by the cities of Soignies and Mons, people will gather where the Canadian troops stopped when the bell rang Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. This place is very symbolic, because it's exactly where the first skirmish between the British and Germans broke out Aug. 22, 1914. The ceremony will start at 5:30 p.m. on Chaussée de Bruxelles.
Fort de Lantin: There will be a religious ceremony at Lantin church at 11 a.m. before a wreath-laying ceremony on Rue de Villers, 1 at 12:15 p.m. At 2 p.m., visit the exhibition about the war. Don't miss the fireworks at 9 p.m.
Brugelette: The ceremony will start with a religious service at the Brugelette Church at 11:30 a.m., followed by a parade through the town.
Chièvres: A commemorative ceremony will start on the square at 11 a.m.
Flanders Field: A ceremony in Flanders Field will pay tribute to the 368 dead American WW1 Soldiers who died while liberating Belgium. There is a central chapel bearing the names of 43 unidentified or missing Soldiers. The ceremony will start at 11 a.m. Attendance is free and open to the public.
Mons: At 9:30 a.m., a religious ceremony will be held in the Collegiate Church of Saint-Waudru. The Mons cemetery will host a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. There will be also a special ceremony of tribute to the War Memorial on Place du Parc and a tribute ceremony to commemorative plaques placed under the entrance porch of the Hôtel de Ville, or city hall, on the square.
Ypres: The Armistice is commemorated each year in Ypres with an extensive schedule of events. Highlights include a religious service at the St. Martin's Cathedral at 9:30 a.m., the Poppy Parade on Vandenpeereboomplein at 10 a.m., and a ceremony at the Belgian War Memorial on Coomansstraatat 10:30 a.m.
Lessines: People will gather at St. Pierre Church at 9:15 a.m. for a religious ceremony. At 10:15 a.m., departure from the Grand Place to Rue Kugé with three fanfares. Inauguration of memorial signs about Kugé, a Belgian resistance fighter who was executed by the Germans, and General Freyberg, the British general who led his troops during of the liberation of Lessines in 1918 and later became Governor of New Zealand. A commemorative ceremony will be held at Quai Van Lierde at 11 a.m.
Comines: A religious ceremony will start at 10 a.m. at Saint Chrysole Church in Comines (Belgium) before a ceremony on Place Sainte Anne. There will be a bell ringing at 11 a.m. and another ceremony to unveil a memorial plaque at 11:30 a.m. Comines in France will also hold a ceremony at 11:50 a.m.
Brussels: There will be a ceremony at the tomb of the unknown Soldier buried on Nov. 11, 1922. The event will start on Place du Congrès around 10:30 a.m. with Philippe, King of the Belgians, and Queen Mathilde.
Chièvres: The arrival of the Scottish Gordon Highlanders delegation Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. will be a big moment in Chièvres. There will be many other events Nov. 17 and 18 for the centennial of the end of World War I: inauguration of commemorative plaque for the creation of the base Nov. 17 at 10 a.m., arrival and gathering of the Scottish delegation Nov. 18 at 10:15 a.m., a parade led by Pipe band from Dudley Gordon Street to Main square at 11 a.m., a ceremony at the war monument and presentation of the Gordon flag and key of the city on Grand-Place at 11:30 a.m.