Walking among the Christian crosses and Jewish stars, I read the names and dates that tell the story of heroism and tragic loss. Here, at the Luxembourg American Military Cemetery, 5,076 service members are laid to rest. Most lost their lives in the Battle of the Bulge waged during the last few months of World War II 70 years ago.
The cemetery – established in 1944 while Allied Forces were stemming the enemy’s Ardennes Offensive – honors those who fought in one of the most crucial battles of the war.
Luxembourg served as headquarters for Gen. George S. Patton’s U.S. Third Army . Although Gen. Patton died after the war, he is buried here in an area overlooking the graves of his men and one woman, a military nurse.
Other monuments and museums honoring American troops are also located throughout this tiny country.
The National Museum of Military History in Diekirch, for example, folds together artifacts and unnervingly lifelike dioramas to help explain what happened in the Belgium and Luxembourg Ardennes Forest when, in December 1944, Adolph Hitler attempted to split the Allied armies in northwest Europe. Gen. Patton’s successful maneuvering of the Third Army led to the defeat of the German defense despite heavy casualties.
The winter was brutal, and the terrain rugged and heavily forested, but American units fought on to stop the German advance.
Battle of the Bulge Museum in Clervaux and General Patton Memorial Museum in Ettelbruck also offer insight into the war, the battle and what Americans did to preserve freedom in this country.
In the cemetery, grave markers tell the story of Americans and their great sacrifice only weeks before the end of WW II with Germany on May 8, 1945. As I watch the steady stream of visitors pausing to pay their respects, I know that in Luxembourg, these heroes will never be forgotten.
For more information, visit the Luxembourg website.