Luxembourg celebrates, remembers and thanks.
Luxembourg was only a brief stop for American forces sweeping through France on their way to Germany in World War II. But the liberation of the tiny country of 450,000 left strong memories.
There were bands, speeches, church services, and commemoration medals as this small country looked back to remember the day that its precious freedom was restored from German occupation.
In one ceremony at Luxembourg’s American military cemetery, where General George Patton is buried, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker hailed the American contribution.
“This is a day of thankfulness to these brave American soldiers who from the other side of the ocean came to Europe, and came to this tiny country, to liberate this country,” the prime minister said.
Luxembourg invited 20 American veterans who took part in the liberation 60 years ago, to return to the country for observances. The oldest of those, 90-year-old John Colligan of New York, said recognition means a lot.
“These people, 60 years later, they’re doing it because of appreciation,” he said. “And that’s a long time to keep your mind set that you want to show your appreciation. I admire them for that.”
Pretty good stuff. And then I came to this:
Luxembourgers have their own perspectives on the war. For 82-year-old Victor Fischbach, it was unique. He was forced into the German army like many other able-bodied Luxembourg men. But he later escaped, and, with the help of a priest, spent 13 months hiding in a Luxembourg church with several of his countrymen. Mr. Fischbach says liberation will never be forgotten by Luxembourg.
“When an American speaks about Europe he must think that Luxembourg is, maybe, the best friend, the strongest friend,” said Mr. Fischbach. “And we’ll never forget what we are owing to America. From time to time, I go to the military cemetery, the American cemetery. I go alone and I cry, I cry. I can’t help, I cry. And I say, go there. If you don’t believe any more in America. Go there, and you will find again, and see again what they have done for us.“
Not all have forgotten or, rather, have chosen to not remember.