CITIZENS OF LUXEMBOURG REMEMBERED
  The 150th Engineer Combat Battalion is holding its 39th reunion the weekend of May 17, at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester. In September of 1984, 20 of its members, with their wives revisited European battle scenes. They were invited to share in the dedication of a memorial monument in Diekirch along with other troops that participated in the liberation of Luxembourg. Here is an account of that by Bill Morrissey. 


  Diekirch is a little city in the Duchy of Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a wonderful land of villages and fields and people who remember. A long time ago, in the time of the Great Oppression, the little country was put into Hitler's grab bag. Its sons were conscripted, and most refused to serve in the armies of the mad man. There were executions and banishment's. The people were angry and terrified. There was great sadness. Luxembourg suffered. 
  There was some hope. 
  The hope of liberation. 
  The light of freedom was difficult to perceive even as it flickered faintly on the beaches of France in June of 1944. Normandy was so far away, and there were so many obstacles to overcome. 
  But, the light grew bigger and brighter, and more discernible, as its promise moved swiftly and determinedly across the continent. Then, on Dec. 16, 1944, the light flickered, dimmed, and disappeared. The sound and fury of the German counterattack frightened everyone. There was great confusion, until American soldiers blunted the final enemy offensive, in the Battle of the Bulge. Freedom's light rekindled. 
  And liberation moved closer. 
  Cities captured, rivers crossed, pillboxes destroyed, hills climbed, boy-men dying, excitement mounting. 
  And Luxembourg was free. 
  And the people remember. 
  Forty years after the invasion Europe, on Sept. 23, 1984, the little city in the Duchy of Luxembourg, Diekirch called as many old soldiers that could make it, together, to show it remembered. On that day, a memorial was dedicated to the American troops who had freed them. 
  The 150th Engineer Combat Battalion had built 18 bridges in that area, and a contingent was there to take part in the ceremonies. 
  It was a dreary Sunday morning as the bus pulled up to the front of the church. A young man who spoke English greeted us, and identified himself as our guide while we were in Diekirch. We entered the church, several minutes late for the 9:30 Mass. It was crowded. There were many veterans and their wives there, so we squeezed in where we could, taking the few remaining seats, and standing in the aisles along the walls. 
  The church was old, built in 1100 A.D., and opened only once a year for services. The ancient columns had nicks and scars, the graceful arches, bearing ceilings, whose reverential paintings had faded with time, and were barely discernible. On one side the mortar of the outside wall could be seen, and on the other, the one on which we were leaning, the plaster finish was crumbling. 
  There was emotion in the church. 
  On the altar behind the priest was a choir of Diekirch youngsters assembled for this special occasion. The members had learned the hymns they sang in English, and their Luxembourg accents added to the drama and sanctity. Two flutes and a guitar provided accompaniment, and added to the poignancy, with haunting sounds that provoked memories. The priest said Mass in English. It was beautiful, thoughtful, inspiring. 
  After the final blessing, as we turned to leave, and introduced ourselves to others, we found there were members of the 5th Infantry Division here for the dedication, too. They had preceded us, and had enjoyed the attention of the city for several days. 
  The surprise came as we stepped outside, and there, ready to lead us in parade through the city streets, was a local band. At rout step we followed, with emotions on display. There were lumps in throats, tears in eyes, and friendly waves from Diekirchers who came to their windows and doors. 
  The marchers stopped in front of City Hall to be greeted by the mayor, and the United States Ambassador to Luxembourg. We were directed to a small park in the rear of the building. A crowd had already gathered. We mixed with them. A squad of young Luxembourg soldiers was at parade rest grasping their rifles, and an honor guard of U.S. servicemen, holding the Colors. The monument to be dedicated was draped. 
  The mayor of Diekirch, a woman, addressed the gathering warmly in her native tongue and in English. She expressed the gratitude of her people for the sacrifices made so long ago by young American men to free the people of her city and country. She spoke of love, a love that has been maintained for all these years. She spoke of liberation and what it meant after four years of German occupation. She spoke of never forgetting. 
  After the ambassador spoke movingly in the two languages about the occasion, and its meaning to both countries, a silence fell on the crowd as the monument was unveiled. It was simple. It bore, at its base, the insignia of the units that had fought in the area, with commemorative words on the monument. The squad of Luxembourg soldiers was called to attention, and on command, fired three volleys to salute the fallen. The honor guard of American servicemen bearing the Colors stood rigid as Taps was sounded. 
  In the bush that followed, each of the veterans who had been in Diekirch the day before to be counted, approached a pile of long stemmed roses that had been laid out for them, picked up a flower, and placed it on the monument, pausing a moment to pay homage with their thoughts. There were feelings of sadness, pride, and love. 
  With the solemnity over we crowded into the City Hall where officials greeted us enthusiastically, and we mingled with citizens of Diekirch. On the long conference table were glasses of champagne, and after everyone had warmed themselves with reminiscences, there was a toast of thanks given by the mayor, and a general from the 5th Infantry Division spoke on our behalf, of our gratitude for being honored and remembered. 
  With smiles and warm feelings, we left the City Hall of Diekirch, and continued on our way. The young men of yesterday who had served their country, the United States of America, had also served the little country of Luxembourg, and its people had not forgotten.

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