FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- On a chilly November day, Fort Bragg's German Liaison Team and members from U.S. Army Special Operations Command joined each other to symbolize the strong bond and friendship the two countries now share, and to remember those who lost their lives in service for their country during Germany's Day of National Mourning.
"The world has changed, not always for the better," said USASOC German liaison officer Lt. Col. Markus Stobbe. "Today, former enemies train and fight side by side all over the world; especially the Special Operations Forces, pursuing the ideal of freedom, helping those who can't help themselves."
The annual ceremony was held November 21, at Fort Bragg's main post cemetery. The ceremony date coincides with Germany's annual national memorial observances that honor not only fallen Soldiers but also victims of war and those who lost their lives due to race, religion or political belief.
"The reason why we are here today is to pause and remember all victims of war and violence, but especially those eight German Prisoners of War, who are buried here side by side with American Soldiers," said Lt. Col. Stobbe.
The foreign gravestones sit 10 feet offset from American markers as required by Army regulation. Six of the soldiers were of German decent, one of Austrian decent, and one of Yugoslavian decent.
During World War II, Fort Bragg served as a prisoner of war camp, housing between two and three-thousand foreign Soldiers at the height of its activity. Although, it originally opened in 1942, it was temporarily shut down then re-opened as a permanent camp in 1944. By the spring of 1946, most foreign prisoners of war were sent back to Europe and POW camps were closed.
"Standing here on a military cemetery, which is a monument and symbol that reminds us of the consequences of war, violence and terrorism underlines this fact. At the same time they also represent hope for forgiveness and brotherhood, and these eight German POW's are a testimony to it. God bless our countries."
Stobbe noted that although we were enemies 75 years ago, today we fight together, against common enemies, as allies to defend freedom.
Stobbe concluded with, "Those dead and fallen have given us all the responsibility to contribute to a peaceful coexistence, but never give up our identity, our freedom, our culture and our nation."
As they retired the colors, Der Gute Kamerad (The Good Comrade) a traditional lament of the German Armed forces played as a salute to the fallen Soldiers.
This year marks the 18th service to remember these fallen troops.