battle of the bulge
This past weekend we had a CIEE excursion and we to see the Battle of the Bulge fields and got a tour by a man who was 9 years old when it happened and was living in a town just outside of Bastogne at the time. It was really incredible.
We were supposed to all meet up at 7:30 and I ended up waking up at 7:30, but luckily since it’s Belgium and people are always late when I called and they hadn’t left yet it wasn’t a big deal that I didn’t get there until 8:00. Case in point that there is no concept of “on time” in Belgium. We had croissants and pain chocolate (basically croissants with chocolate inside them) on the bus before we met our guide and watched an episode of Band of Brothers.
We had a great lunch and then started our tour of Bastogne. The whole day consisted of a visit to two American memorials (one my the people of Bastogne and one by the US), a German grave yard, a bus tour of the city, a museum and a visit to the fox holes. Our tour guide was a man who was 9 years old when the Battle of the Bulge happened and it was so interesting to hear all about his memories of the various occupations as a child. He talked about the differences between the occupations of the Germans, the Americans and then the Nazi SS. When he began the tour he talked a lot about how people in Bastogne will “welcome us home” as Americans when we’re here. At first I thought he was trying to get us to like him by saying that he liked America- but throughout the day and the more places we saw it really did seem like the people of Bastogne were still very appreciative of the American soldiers who had fought there. There were a lot of American flags in windows and buildings and streets named after American figures.
My favorite part of the tour was when we got to go see the fox holes where the Americans had been looking over Foy. It was really incredible to see the actual place where the soldiers were camped out and even though it was not nearly as cold as it had been then, it made all of our guide’s stories and history seem much more real.