Many people may look to this year, 2015, as the year Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled back(?) to the future in “Back to the Future Part II.” That movie may be enjoyable (although I’m still waiting for hover boards and self-lacing sneakers!) but this year also represents something more (much more) than a date in a 1980’s movie.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of World War II, both in Europe May 8 and in Japan in August 9. The very acts made during this summer 70 years ago molded the world we live in today perhaps more significantly than all the previous years of recorded history. Yes, that might sound like hyperbole, or a gross exaggeration, when compared to the invention of the wheel or the printing press, but it doesn’t seem so when you make your way to one of these two American military cemeteries in Belgium and Luxembourg.
The Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial, located in Hombourg, Belgium; and the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Luxembourg, are both within two hours driving distance from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. They’re well worth the trip, too, and both highlight the sacrifices American service members made during the conflict 70 years ago.
Below are pictures from my two recent trips to both cemeteries accompanied by words from U.S. President Harry S. Truman’s May 8, 1945, remarks when he heard about the war’s conclusion in Europe.
“This is a solemn but glorious hour. General Eisenhower informs me that the forces of Germany have surrendered to the United Nations.”
“The flags of freedom fly all over Europe. For this victory, we join in offering our thanks to the Providence which has guided and sustained us through the dark days of adversity.”
“Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band.”
“Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors–neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty.”
“We can repay the debt which we owe to our God, to our dead, and to our children, only by work, by ceaseless devotion to the responsibilities which lie ahead of us.”
“If I could give you a single watchword for the coming months, that word is work, work, and more work.”