By Mr. Kevin Downey (IMCOM)July 20, 2010
CHIEVRES, Belgium -- A multinational ceremony part solemn remembrance of World War II and part celebration of decades-old alliances marked the 60th anniversary of the Mardasson Memorial July 16 near Bastogne, Belgium.
The memorial honors the sacrifices of the more than 75,000 U.S. Soldiers who were wounded or killed during the Battle of the Bulge, the deadliest battle in U.S. Army history.
"Today we honored those Soldiers who came before us and paid the ultimate sacrifice," said USAG Benelux color guard representative Sgt. Timothy Strick, a military policeman on ChiAfA..vres. "I was humbled to carry the U.S. flag among the flags of our Allies, just as American Soldiers had done 60 years ago."
Platoons from the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Belgium and the United States joined dignitaries, veterans and spectators to commemorate the monument's anniversary, and salute the reason it was constructed six decades ago. An international color guard from SHAPE paraded Allied colors in the center of the formation.
Aca,!A"It is just as important now as it has ever been to commemorate events such as Mardasson, where the ultimate sacrifice was made by those who have gone before us, and continues to be made by our service personnel in the world today,Aca,!A? said Regimental Sgt. Maj. Arthur Weir, from Headquarters Support Group SHAPE. "I found it particularly gratifying that so many representatives and service personnel were present from many different nations. Again, our alliances today are as important as ever and as history maintains; we are stronger together."
In a nod to the memorial's inauguration, soil from Allied nations was formally presented during the ceremony by delegations from France, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and America. The dirt was placed in an urn and will be stored in the monument's crypt, adjacent to the monument.
The urn containing Allied soil from the memorial's inaugural ceremony is preserved at the Truman Museum in Independence, Mo.
"This monument is sacred for many reasons, but chief among them, is that it marks the sacrifice of those many Americans [and] also the establishment of an extraordinary partnership of our countries," said keynote speaker and senior American representative Robert Faucher, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Belgium.
"As we ponder the threats we face today, we cannot help but think back to the sacrifices that were made here in Belgium and in this part of the world," he said in his remarks. "The Mardasson Memorial stands as a tribute to the past, a daily reminder of our modern day partnership and as a lesson to those who come after us."
The Memorial is shaped to represent the star of freedom, with five points, each one measuring just over 100 feet. Along the crown are the names of the 50 U.S. states, above paintings and engravings in English detailing the progression of the battle.
"The star shape of the monument symbolizes freedom," Faucher said, "and this is a monument for peace."
Inscripted on the memorial stone at the center of the monument is a latin phrase, meaning: "The Belgian people remember their American liberators - 4th July 1946."