***image1***Thirty military members participated in the largest military ceremony
recorded at St. Mihiel Military Cemetery outside of Thiaucourt, France,
Nov. 11 for Veteran’s Day.
“Today we are a nation at war against the enemies of freedom and
democracy. Events like this are important be-cause they help us
to remember those Americans who came to Europe over the last century
who fought and died for these very same principles,” said Lt. Col.
Michael Marra, 86th Contingency Response Group deputy commander.
“The Airmen and Soldiers who attended contributed to keeping their
memories alive and to inspire us all to continue selfless service.”
The 40.5-acre cemetery is near where the majority of the 4,153 military killed in a battle fought in September 1918.
“As I walked through some of the 4,000 graves, I thought about those
men especially from my home state of Pennsylvania who were buried in a
foreign land,” said Chief Master Sgt. Rick Lechner, 86th Air and Space
Communications Group superintendent. “I found it an overwhelming
experience and great privilege to honor our fallen heroes from World
War I on this hallowed ground of France.”
Following four hours of heavy artillery bombardment, nine U.S. Army
divisions began the main assault against the southern face of the
German salient while the French II Colonial Corps made a holding attack
to the south, according to Chief Lechner. A secondary assault by
the Army’s V Corps, now stationed in Heidelberg, was made three hours
later against the western front. At the end of the day, all units
surrounded and eliminated the enemy. Throughout these attacks,
the forces were supported by the largest concentration of Allied
aircraft ever assembled.
Two months later, the Germans agreed to an armistice starting on the
eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918;
subsequently, Veteran’s Day was established.
“Veteran’s Day is about remembering their sacrifices and reflecting on what it
means to serve today,” said Colonel Marra. “Lest we forget.”