Ramstein Airmen honor U.S. veterans in Belgium
By Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 13, 2017
HENRI-CHAPELLE AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL, Belgium -- Bad weather did not deter Airmen assigned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, from celebrating Veteran’s Day at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium. The ethereal curtain of fog and delicate rainfall only added to the poignancy of the ceremony.
The Airmen, assigned to the 86th Civil Engineer Group, maintained their bearing and honored all of America’s veterans—both the living and the dead. The Spangdahlem Air Base honor guard also played an important role in the event.
The ceremony included speeches, a wreath-laying presentation, a rifle salute, and a playing of the Belgian and American national anthems. The event was attended by both U.S. and Belgian civilians as well as members of the American Legion.
“It is both fitting and proper that we have all come together at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery,” said Col. Brian Hartless, 86th CEG commander. “This hallowed ground is the final resting place for 7,992 American military heroes who answered the call and were willing to risk it all so that others might continue to live in freedom.”
Hartless went on to list the names of notable Airmen buried at the cemetery and the acts of heroism they committed during World War II.
Veterans Day in the U.S. coincides with Armistice Day across different countries in Europe including Belgium. While Armistice Day began as a day to mark the end of World War I, it expanded as a day of recognition for veterans of all wars. Because the armistice that ended the First World War affected most of Europe, the holiday commemorating it varies from country to country.
During his speech, Hartless highlighted the significance of the holiday, adding that it illustrates the commitment of U.S. service members to serve their country and build partnerships with their allies. Since World War I, the U.S. has made great strides to promote its ideals in the world, he said.
“Unfortunately, WWI was not the ‘war to end all wars’ and the world is just as perilous today,” said Hartless. “In the last century, the United States has been a force for good in a dangerous world. We have been a champion of freedom, individual liberty, and human dignity in even greater conflicts.”