Enter the gates of the Luxembourg American Cemetery and you are on rich green lawns surrounded by acres of woods. White crosses stand in memorial to the soldiers who gave their lives in World War II to defend this area of the world for freedom. The quiet here today is notable. You can stand among the graves, feeling the sun on your face and a light breeze, and it’s so peaceful. But it’s a place to remember when chaos reigned.
The Germans launched their last major offensive of World War II on December 16, 1944, attacking the Allies along a front that stretched for 45 miles. Their goal was the port of Antwerp. The battle known commonly as the Battle of the Bulge, took place here in Luxembourg and in neighboring Belgium. Despite fierce fighting, the Germans were unable to break through Allied lines. The most well-known scenes of fighting involved the small town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne held strong against the Germans. The men hunkered in their foxholes in the severe winter of 1944 were at last reinforced and relieved when General George Patton raced his army there and arrived with his tanks.
The cemetery’s website describes it beautifully: “The design is a softly curving fan shape consisting of nine sections interspersed with four fountains, majestic trees, and expansive rose and rhododendron beds. It is a befittingly tranquil final resting place for these Americans who gave their all.”
Outside, two pylons display maps of the Ardennes and Rhineland campaigns of late 1944 and early 1945 on one side. On the other side, names of 371 missing soldiers are inscribed. A visitor center offers information and brochures. You can look up the location of a specific grave, too.
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