Three Countries

Thursday, April 06, 2017
Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Yesterday (Wednesday), we visited three countries. Yes, Luxembourg is about the size of the Door Peninsula, but still, I think it sounds rather impressive. We took the train from Trier at 7:37 a.m. and arrived at 8:30 in Luxembourg. It was another scenic train ride. We grabbed a cab to the Luxembourg American Cemetery, where we met our guide, Henri. 
Henri ....what can I say? He retired as a Major from the Belgian Army at age 54, and now gives tours, at age 80! He was in better shape than all of us. You would never guess he was that age, by his energy. 

We started at the cemetery, where over 5,000 US troops are buried. It reminded me of the cemetery in Normandy, with white stones and the rows in perfect order. 
When Patton was in a car crash, he insisted on being buried with his troops. His grave was moved because it was ruining the grass in the former area. Then we drove to Bastogne. Again, the drive was so pretty. Bastogne was a key place in the Battle of the Bulge, as the Germans needed to seize it to gain control of Antwerp harbour, and the crossroads took place in Bastogne. Heavy fighting took place between Dec. 20-27 in 1944. American soldiers put up road blocks to slow down the Germans. It was a surprise attack from the Germans, but eventually, the Allies, mainly Patton's 3rd Army, provided relief and helped the regain the city
We saw the former Bastogne barracks which now has a museum. Bastogne reminded me of Bayeux in that there were US flags everywhere. We saw the office when Gen. McAuliffe famously said "Nuts!" when the Allies were asked to surrender. The barracks are no longer used, but has a museum, and engineers that restore war tanks. These were impressive to see. 
We went through the town of Foy and saw another tree memorial in a wooded area. 
We saw the Mardasson Memorial, which was built as a dedication to the American soldiers in the battle. It's an impressive monument, built in 1950, and the shape of a star. Every US state is listed on it. We also saw the impressive statue of the soldier kissing the nurse that gets moved around every year.  

We saw fox holes that were still present near the town of Foy, and bullet holes in some of the buildings in the villages, as well as more dedications. We saw the Germany cemetery, which is dark and sad compared to the American one. This is consistent with others throughout Europe . Henri told us that Germany didn't want to pay the money to send bodies back to Germany, so they were buried where they were found. He said that some Belgians don't like it, but it is what it is. 

What impressed me the most was the dedication to the victims in the Newtown shooting. In the wooded area, 26 trees were planted in honor of the students and teachers who were killed. This really shows that Belgians are still so supportive and grateful to the Americans who liberated them. 
Henri's story about the German soldiers were that they were nice. They had to sleep on the floor and feed them, but they were nice to his family. But once the SS came in, one night they destroyed everything, and his mother cried. 

Henri was a young boy during the war, and sadly, his father was killed by a gun shell when he went outside their home to retrieve snow to melt (the Germans were taking all the well water at the end of the battle). As he and his family grieved for their father in their basement, their home was struck and caught on fire . Two members of the U.S. Army found them in the basement and moved them on one of their army tanks to take them to safety. Henri remembers sitting on top of the tank as the Allies took them to a nearby church to get settled and recover. 

We ended the day by seeing the Clervaux Castle, where the Allies also battled hard at the beginning of the BOTB, but eventually surrendered. Henri dropped us off at the train station, where we went back to Luxembourg, and back to Trier. We were pretty beat by the end of the day, but it was a great day, and we were so glad we got to meet Henri. We had dinner at a restaurant across the street from our hotel. 

Today, it's off to Koblenz, and tomorrow, back to the airport. It went so fast! 
Thanks again, for reading.