While in Luxembourg, a Belgian coworker harassed me, “You’re an American and you’ve never visited Bastogne?”
It was true. I was visiting the Low Countries for the third time and I had zero plans to visit the famous town from the Battle of the Bulge.
To redeem myself, I showed him a picture of the monument to the battle at the Valley Forge Military Academy, “Do you know what this is?” “Yes,” he responded, “it is the Battle of the Bulge Monument in Radnor, Pennsylvania. It was the first thing I visited when I went to America.” Now I felt silly and I had to visit Bastogne. The follow photos and description come from my visit to the site on April 19, 2013.
After scoping out the site on the Internet, I was on my way.
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When I arrived at Bastogne, my GPS eventually sent me on a dirt road. There were no signs along the way and the road steadily became worse. I kept feeling as though I was heading toward a dead end.
Then suddenly there was an M10 tank destroyer.
As I approached the larger memorial, there was a smaller monument featuring an eagle crouching over a military helmet.
A closer look revealed that it was dedicated to the 101st Airborne. Immediately, I recalled all the stories my dad told me about the unit as a kid (and still as an adult!). I recalled the accounts of their deeds from Hollywood depictions in Patton and Band of Brothers, how the only response the commanding general gave to German demands for surrender was “NUTS!” This is the stuff of legends in America. The dedication is enough to humble any American.
The Mardasson monument, named after the hill it sits atop, is a massive, star-shaped structure measuring over 13 yards high and nearly 34 yards in diameter.
The first thing that became apparent was the name of each of the 50 states wrapped around the top of the monument.
They could not fit them all on the outside, so the rest of the states appear in the inner circle.
The outer columns list every major American unit that fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
The inner columns tell the story of the battle in detail.
At the center of the entire monument is a plague in Latin, which translates to “THE PEOPLE OF BELGIUM REMEMBER THEIR AMERICAN LIBERATORS 4 7 1946”.
Any American visiting the Low Countries should make the excursion to Bastogne and see this monument.
Nearby was the crypt, which I will feature in a future post.
Unfortunately, the nearby museum is under construction for a grand reopening for next year’s 70th anniversary of the battle. However, it gives me a great excuse to visit Bastogne again.