By Christophe Morel, USAG Benelux Public AffairsJune 5, 2019
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- Almost 75 years after the Battle of the Bulge, people observed Memorial Day on June 1 in Bastogne, Belgium, during events remembering and honoring those who gave their lives in World War II.
This year was special for the city, because it was also the 25th anniversary of the "Bois de la Paix," also known as the Peace Woods.
"The Peace Woods must be a place of eternal gratitude towards those who have fallen for our freedom," said Bastogne mayor Benoît Lutgen.
The Peace Woods are a miniature, natural forest. People planted trees during the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in 1994. Of the 4,000 trees that make up the woods, 400 of them bear the names of American veterans who fought in the Battle of the Bugle during the winter of 1944 to 1945.
During the day, people gathered in the Peace Woods to recognize the addition of new sentinel cities and a plaque in tribute to its founder José Wuidar.
Wuidar's family members spoke about his lasting impact on the community.
"Everyone has to realize that it's time to convey the importance of democracy," one family member said.
The Peace Woods are designed to form the UNICEF emblem: a mother and her child. This is the symbol of human tenderness, and the picture can be viewed from the sky.
After the Peace Woods ceremony, attendees went to the Mardasson Memorial for the traditional Memorial Day ceremony, a patriotic event dedicated to honoring the memory of all those who gave their lives during the Battle of the Bulge. More than 47,000 Soldiers gave their lives in the Ardennes campaign, which centered around Bastogne.
Among the event attendees were U.S. Army Garrison Benelux representatives. Soldiers and an Airman from the garrison served in the color guard.