Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

A short distance outside of Luxembourg is an American Cemetery and Memorial.  If you’re driving, there’s a nice parking lot right at the gate, but if you’re using public transportation, you take a bus a few minutes outside the city center, and then walk for a little more than a mile.  There are signs to point the way, but this road is part of the walk:


Once you get to the top of the low hill, there’s a pretty hard to miss gate leading into the Cemetery.  The wrought iron gate holds gilded laurel wreaths, to represent valor.


The US 5th Armored Division liberated this site on September 10, 1944.  A temporary military burial ground for those killed in action during World War II was set up in December of that year, and the Grand Ducal government of Luxembourg granted permanent use from that time without charging any rent or taxes.

I spoke briefly to the woman who was working in the visitor center near the gate; she told me that the office staff is two American woman (herself included,) and one local who speaks fluent Luxembourgish, French, and German.

The centerpiece of the memorial is this tower.  The door in the front opens to a small prayer and reflection chapel.


Facing the tower are two walls which are Tablets of the Missing, listing the names of 371 Missing In Action.  The remains of these soldiers and airmen were never found or recovered.


On the other side of the Tablets of the Missing are maps showing the military campaigns fought by these men, including the Battle of the Bulge, fought along the Rhine river.


Past the monument are the graves, arranged in a semi-circle.  There are 5,076 headstones of those who lost their lives in service of their country on 50.5 acres.  118 of the headstones are Stars of David, like the one near the front in this photograph.


4,958 of the headstones are Latin Crosses.  22 of them are sets of brothers.  One of the graves is that of a female army nurse.  Walking among these headstones is a quiet, serene experience.


A pathway separates the graves area into roughly thirds, containing two fountains.  The fountains have bronze dolphins and turtles to symbolize resurrection and everlasting life.


In front of the ranks, between two American flags, and looking out toward the rest of the graves, is the headstone of General George S. Patton, Jr., commander of the Third Army.

After a long and decorated military career, General Patton actually died in Heidelberg, Germany, from complications of an automobile collision in nearby Speyer.  He was buried in Luxembourg because he had previously requested that he be buried with his men.


Have you ever been to an American Military Cemetery or Memorial?


Luxembourg City

My trip to Belgium concluded with a one night stay in Luxembourg City so that I would have a little bit of time to check out the place.   My hotel was directly opposite the train station, and I already posted a night-time view from this vantage point, because this was the night of the Sport Lisboa e Benfica win.   It was much quieter in the daytime.


The topography of Luxembourg City is kind of amazing-  the entire city is constructed around gorges and ravines.  If you’re a fan of interesting bridges, this is the town for you to visit.  If I’m not mistaken, this one is the Passerelle, also known as the Luxembourg Viaduct.


This is Luxembourg’s Notre-Dame Cathedral.  I knew there were a few Notre-Dame cathedrals, but I didn’t know before I looked it up that there are actually more than thirty.  I’ve seen three of ’em now.  I’m gonna collect the whole set! (Kidding…)


In Constitution Square, as you’re heading into the old city, there’s a war memorial called The Monument of Remembrance.  The locals have nick-named it Gëlle Fra, which is Luxembourgish for “Golden Lady.”  The monument is dedicated to the Luxembourgers who served in the armed forces of the Allied Powers during World War I.

Interesting side note:  The first time I heard someone refer to Luxembourgish as a language, I thought they were joking.   Luxembourgish, I have learned, is a derivative of Franconian German which is spoken by about 400,000 people worldwide.    Most of them, naturally, are in Luxembourg.  Fascinating!


Walking through the city, I found myself in a large square called the the Place d’Armes.  There were many restaurants and shops around this square, but there was also, somewhat randomly, a band visiting from Britain!  The Young Ambassador’s Brass Band of Great Britain.


After I enjoyed the live music for a little while, I kept wandering.  I found the Grand Ducal Palace without much difficulty.  Large crowds of people make things easier to spot.


When I got closer to the Grand Ducal Palace, I noticed a lone guard marching back and forth in front of the gate.   There were two of these blue guard boxes, and I wonder if the Luxembourg guard does as the Queen’s Guard do at Buckingham Palace:  Two sentries when royalty is in residence, and one when royalty is out of town.


Walking further, I found a  theater with a nifty set of drama statues out in front.  Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the part of the trip where I got completely lost.  Despite my travel experience, this still happens to me sometimes.   When I’m in the heart of an old city, my sense of direction isn’t always the sharpest and I can get pretty turned around.    This never happens to me when I’m in Florida, even when I’m in an unfamiliar part of the state.   I don’t know precisely why this is.  In any case, I kept walking in the same direction, because I thought I was heading back toward Constitution Square.


By the time I realized I wasn’t where I thought I had been going, I was several kilometers away from the place where I knew which way was which.   Lucky for me, this was also the point at which I found one of those Hop-On/Hop-Off bus tours.  I Hopped On.

Most of the bus tour was uninteresting to me, but I did quite like seeing The Tall Banker.  The Tall Banker, set in front of the Deka Bank, has the waist of a normal person, but he’s eight meters tall.


From the bus tour, I also saw the Walking Flower sculpted by Fernand Léger in 1951.  I don’t know if this is the original one, because I saw the exact same sculpture two weeks later in the Hague.   This statue (or copies of it) have traveled the world, and one was even displayed in Manhattan.


After I Hopped Off the tour bus, I walked back to Pont Adolphe.  I had actually been trying to find this bridge when I got turned around and subsequently lost, and it turned out to be very close to where I started out in the first place.  It was also closed to traffic for repairs, but that didn’t stop me from wandering out onto it.


Have you ever visited Luxembourg City?

Victorious and Jubilant

Over the long Easter weekend, I visited  Belgium and Luxembourg.  (Those posts are coming soon.)  The night before I returned to Regensburg, I heard a bunch of people shouting across the street, in front of the main Luxembourg City train station.

At first, it was just a small group of people, jumping up and down and cheering.   Soon, the group got larger though.  Much larger.  There were drums, and foghorns, and people honking their horns as they drove buy.

After a while, the crowd became so large that they started to spill into the street.   Traffic was blocked.  The celebrants were using flares and vuvuzelas.   The police saw the size of the celebratory crowd and started to detour traffic around the area.

The volume of the cheering and the horns and the vuvuzelas and the drums was so loud that I could hear it from the interior hallway inside the hotel.   By this point, my curiosity was impossible to ignore, so I went downstairs to take a closer look.

I stayed across the street, ready to duck back into the hotel if necessary-  even though this was a happy, celebrating crowd, it was still a fairly giant mob.  I found out once I was downstairs what the celebration was about-  Sport Lisboa e Benfica, a Portuguese sports group, had just won a major championship game.

As it happens,  there’s a pretty substantial Portuguese community in Luxembourg City.   They stayed on the street cheering and honking and generally being a giant crowd for about three hours.  By quarter to midnight, the last vuvuzela finally wandered off and by midnight it was quiet enough to get some sleep.

Here’s a few pictures from the celebration.  I’ve shown these to a couple of people and the overall impression I’ve heard is that this actually looks like a riot.  It wasn’t, though- it was a celebration.  These people were happy.  

benfica-lux-1 benfica-lux-2 benfica-lux-3 benfica-lux-4 benfica-lux-5 benfica-lux-6 benfica-lux-7 benfica-lux-8

Have you ever seen a celebration like this firsthand?