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Inauguration

Preparation of the opening ceremony

By the Municipality: the whole inaugural part at the Mardasson Memorial area was the responsibility of the Municipality of Bastogne :

  • a. Advertising was implemented by the Department of festivals and events of the City of Bastogne that sent press releases to local and provincial media.
  • b. The invitations were sent off by the Department of festivals and events of the City of Bastogne and the SE United States Embassy in Brussels.
  • c. The inauguration ceremony was designed by the Department of festivals and events of the City of Bastogne.

By the Embassy of the United States: The United States Embassy in Brussels supported the reception at the City Hall at the end of the opening ceremony.

Announcement of the ceremony

The invitation

Ceremony at the Mardasson

Persons present at the inauguration ceremony

  • Mr. Sam Fox, HE the Ambassador of the United States of America.
  • Mr. Philippe Collard, deputy mayor of the City of Bastogne and a very large delegation of the City.
  • Mr. Benoit Lutgen, Regional Minister.
  • Mr. Daniel Fagundes, Defense Attache , and a large delegation from the Embassy.
  • Mr. Arnold Debeire , military commander of the province of Luxembourg.
  • Mr. Jean-Maurice Jacques , Dean of Bastogne.
  • Standard bearers: the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagle, did us the honor of sending a delegation of their Fort Campbell Color Guard, which came specially for the inauguration of the statue. It consisted of the following personnel: Major Michael Oeschger, Jeffrey Sobocinski, Eric Lange, Russell Childers, Demetrius Gilbert, William Stombaugh, Michael Borbon.
  • Standard bearers of the Municipality, veterans and other patriotic associations.
  • U.S. and Belgian godparents ; the Mc Keen family was complete. see link : the Godparents.
  • A detachment of the « 1A Bastogne Barracks », commanded by Lt Comuth
  • Several prominent civil, military, educational, personalities , numerous sponsors, without forgetting all those who have provided with such a precious help.
  • TVLUX television as well as the U.S. Embassy TV, and several journalists.
  • A lot of admirers and the people of Bastogne.

The sequence of the ceremony

At the Mardasson site

  • a. To begin the ceremony, the Color Guard of the Screaming Eagle marched past the flags, patriotic associations, delegations from schools, civil and military authorities ... The color guard came to the right of the monument.
  • b. Several speeches were made:
    • (1)Philippe Collard, Deputy Mayor, on behalf of the City of Bastogne.
    • (2)Joseph Gelard, retired Lieutenant Colonel , on behalf of the Godparents of the statue.
    • (3)Col. Oeschger on behalf of the Screaming Eagle.
  • c. Then HE. Sam Fox, Ambassador of the United States of America, accompanied by Mayor Philippe Collard (who asked Robert Remacle to join them) unveiled the statue to the applause of all the present persons.
  • d. Mr. Jean-Maurice Jacques,Dean of Bastogne, proceeded then to the blessing.
  • e. The school children finally handed a bouquet of flowers to the two godmothers as well as to the wife of the Ambassador and the wife of Daniel Fagundes, US Godfather.

The Inauguration was a great event enhanced by the presence of Mr. Sam Fox, His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States of America , Mr. Benoit Lutgen Regional Minister, Mr. Arnold Debeire, Province Commander of Luxembourg, Mr. Jean-Maurice Jacques,dean of Bastogne, the U.S. and Belgian Godparents of the statue, a delegation of » 1A Bastogne Barrack Artillery » , numerous patriotic flags, a lot of schools, but especially the very noticeable US Color Guard of the 101st Airborne from Fortcampbell which had especially come for the inauguration.

After listening to the speech of Deputy Mayor Philippe Collard who highlighted Mary Ann Mc-Keen, who best symbolizes the suffering of thousands of American families who lost a father, a son or a brother for ever. After listening to the speech of Major Oeschtger , Color Guard Commander and finally that of Colonel Gelard on behalf of the godparents, Philippe Collard invited Mr. Sam Fox, Ambassador of the United States of America in Brussels, to join in the unveiling of the statue under the applause of the present persons . Mr. Jean-Maurice Jacques, Dean of Bastogne proceeded then to the blessing of the statue.

Finally, the American and Belgian National anthems were played and the flags were withdrawn. Afterwards followed a reception at the Town Hall organized by the U.S. Embassy; Mr. Sam Fox delivered a remarkable speech in which he stressed the Belgian-American friendship which has been existing for many decades now and the essential role played by US President Hoover during the First World War. A short film was screened. He recalled in particular that his mother and sister had then left the port of Antwerp to go to the USA for ever.
Usual gifts of friendship were exchanged.

At the Town Hall

  • a. Speech by HE Sam Fox, Ambassador
  • b. Exchange of gifts: HE Sam Fox , Ambassador, offered a small gift to the numerous people who are involved in the realization of the statue and the preparation of ceremonies.
  • c. Mr. Philippe Collard , Major, offered HE Ambassador a gift on behalf of the City.
  • d. Robert offered the Ambassador a piece of the stone used to build the statue, after having sculpted the blazon of the 101st Airborne on it.
  • e. Then a film was shown by the Embassy of the United States. It included the main moments of Friendship between our two people, that friendship has lasted for a very long time now.
  • f. NB ::
    • (1)Robert Remacle had also previously offered the Color Guard and Philippe Collard a piece of the stone used for the statue, after having sculpted the blazon of the 101st on it.
    • (2)The very night of the inauguration, Michael Oeschger and Jeffrey Sobocinski offered Robert Remacle, on behalf of the 101st Airborne, their Screaming Eagle Flag.
    • (3)Six months later, Mr. Wayne Bush, Minister Counseller at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, offered Robert Remacle the American national flag which had flown on the Capitol, March 10th, 2009 through Mr. Ron Wyden, Senator in Oregon.