Happy Memorial Day to you. I hope this day holds some blessed memories for you. One of the blessed memories I recall on Memorial Day is of a visit my husband and I made to the American Cemetery in Luxembourg two years ago while on sabbatical. Over 5000 American soldiers are buried in that American Cemetery. The graves mostly hold the soldiers who died in Germany, France and Luxembourg in WWII, particularly during the Battle of the Bulge.
Our guide for the day told us his parents were living in Luxembourg when the Germans invaded for the second time. The first time, at the beginning of the war, they annexed Luxembourg and conscripted all the young men to fight for Germany. When they invaded the second time they created a bulge in the Allied lines as they attempted to stop the Allied offensive. They completely occupied Luxembourg at this time and our guide’s parents fled to Belgium. The Allies prevailed, but lost 19,000 soldiers. The Germans lost 23,000.
During and after the war many of the American soldiers who died were buried at the American Cemetery in Luxembourg. General Patton is buried there. His wife at one point asked to have his grave transferred to the United States for burial, but the queen of Luxembourg begged to have it remain in Luxembourg. Our Guide said the people of Luxembourg consider Patton a hero because he liberated Luxembourg from the Germans.
Our French guide told us children in Paris all make a compulsory visit to the American cemetery in Luxembourg to make sure they understand the depth of sacrifice the Americans made to help secure France’s freedom. She said French men and women remember what Americans did in the war and appreciate America.
I loved hearing the stories of our guides on that day because it reminded me that we are more connected than we believe. Sometimes Americans seem to feel so distanced from European countries and stunned me to hear that people in Luxembourg and France have a debt of gratitude our country. Times of great trouble have a way of bringing people of good will together. This is what I pray for in our shared trouble around the world today.
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