American Battle Monuments Commission, Luxembourg American Cemetery
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Gudde Mëtteg, Good Afternoon
I would like to start by thanking everyone in attendance today including our honored guests: His Excellency Mr. Weiler, The Honorable Mrs. Beissel, The Honorable Mr. Etgen, The Honorable Mr. Wivenes, The Honorable Mr. Wilmes, Lt. General Clark, General Duschène, Colonel Gjone, Father Hone, Mr. Dana, and Chaplin Redman. Thank you as well to all active and retired service members, next of kin, the Army of Luxembourg, commemorative society representatives and American organizations who will lay wreaths today.
Members of the general public, ladies and gentlemen:
Today we commemorate Memorial Day – a chance to remember all of the service women and men who gave their lives while serving in America’s Armed Forces. We used to call this day Decoration Day, a day when soldiers graves were given special care and attention. The cemetery today reminds me of that history with flags or flowers on all of the graves of the 5075 laid here to rest.
As Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, it is an honor to be with you here today on my first Memorial Day in Luxembourg. This past year I was able to attend commemorations across the country – each one special and meaningful, and I was grateful to have the chance to represent the U.S. Embassy.
What struck me most were the personal stories I heard – of the sacrifice of the American soldiers and the resilience, determination and resistance by the civilians in Luxembourg.
I learned children in Luxembourg would wake early to collect eggs to feed people hiding in their barns and cellars. Many people remember listening on secret radios to the Grand Duchess make her ‘Léif Lëtzebuerger’ addresses from abroad. I met U.S. veterans of WWII who fell in love and stayed or returned to Luxembourg. And of course, the tales of the heroism of those buried behind me stay with me as well. In all of these stories, and there are many more, are the shared humanity of enduring separation and loss, of recovering and rebuilding after this terrible period in history.
Today Luxembourgers still remember and honor the sacrifice of their liberators. There are 110 memorials throughout the country, as well as museums and commemorative societies that honor key events from the war and the U.S. soldiers’ sacrifices. The U.S. Embassy and the cemetery partner with many of these organizations and museums. Together, like the work of our friend Camille Kohn, who was a central member of the commemorative community and passed away last month, we keep these memories alive for generations to come. Luxembourg is – and will – remain a true friend of America.
It is important to remember that as the countries in Europe were beginning to pick up the pieces and rebuild their countries and lives, something else was being built in the aftermath of the war. As a direct result of WWII, NATO and the precursor to the EU were created to help prevent another World War. Luxembourg, a founding member of both of these important institutions, knew too well the price of war. Today they remain steadfast in their commitment to these institutions, alongside the United States and their allies.
I want to end by reflecting for a moment on the phrase “never again.” There is a staggering human cost in war. Look behind me and think of the soldiers buried here, but also remember their parents, siblings, loved ones, friends and communities and what was lost. Never again do we want another war like this, never again can we expect a generation of young people to serve and pay with their lives the way many of the greatest generation did, and never again do we want to need another cemetery for the fallen.
In these fragile times, we must work together to strengthen democracy and maintain a lasting peace. Everyone has a role to play. Every country and every citizen can contribute to a peaceful future. May the bonds of friendship between Luxembourg and the United States of America continue to flourish for centuries to come.