MANNHEIM, Germany ― All across the world, hearts and minds were joined in remembrance this Memorial Day weekend.
Whether through personal mourning for individual service members, or in mass gatherings at the many ceremonies happening around the globe, millions of people paused to honor the sacrifices made in the name of liberty and freedom.
The 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 18th Military Police Brigade had the privilege of sending an honor platoon, a rifle squad and a color guard to support the French citizens of St. Avold and Villers-Stoncourt, France, as they honored the Soldiers who died to defend the French during World War II.
High atop the hillsides of the Villers-Stoncourt countryside, the Soldiers of the 529th MP Company joined with French and Polish citizens May 29 to honor to the troops from both nations who paid the ultimate price in defending the people of the Lorraine region.
At the peak of Mont-du-St.Pierre stands a monument to those men. A large, dark cross looms over the landscape below, reminding those below that the freedom they enjoy has come at a price.
“This memorial symbol of sacrifice for the combatants committed to the liberation of our land in 1944 reminds us that we have a duty to remember,” said Jacqueline Magard, lord mayor of Villers-Stoncourt.
For 45 consecutive years, since the monument was erected in 1976, the people of Villers-Stoncourt have honored these men. Their gratitude for the sacrifices made by those men has been passed on through the generations.
With the attendance and participation of many children at the Villers-Stoncourt ceremony, it was obvious these men would not soon be forgotten and the tradition of remembrance would carry on.
Not far from Villers-Stoncourt is the Lorraine American Cemetery where the 529th MPs joined an even larger crowd May 30 to pay tribute to the thousands of Americans buried there.
Maj. Gen. Terry Wolff, the deputy commanding general of U.S. Army-Europe, spoke at the ceremony. The ceremony was also attended by four American next-of-kin
families and World War II veteran Jack Moran.
During the invocation, Maj. (chaplain) Brian Reck, the chaplain for the 18th MP Brigade, expressed the “heartfelt and eternal gratitude” felt by those in attendance for the men who “fought for their liberties, their wives, their children, their loved ones and their country” and paid the ultimate price.
Every speech at the ceremony expressed a sincere appreciation for those buried in the plots before them and as wreaths were laid in their honor, the reverence from a
grateful nation was visibly apparent.
But as a lone bugler stood among the hundreds of rows of stark white gravestones and the heartbreaking notes of taps cut through the air, the magnitude of the loss of life ― and the freedom gained ― was truly felt.