The cold, bitter air that wisped through the people gathered was only temporarily relieved by the few glimpses of sunlight. Heads bowed in the moment of silence while the bugler played in the background.
The eight Soldiers lying side by side each had a bouquet of red flowers above their grave and had their tombstones identifying their name, rank, and the year they died — 1945.
Lt. Col. Andreas Wiechert, German liaison officer for Fort Bragg, assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps, hosted the 12th annual German Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Main Post Cemetery Nov. 20.
“The main reason we are gathered here today is to take a second to pause and remember all the fallen Soldiers, especially the eight Germans resting here in peace together with what used to be their enemies but are now friends...the American Soldiers,” said Wiechert in his speech.
During the month of November, people in Germany pause to remember and honor soldiers, victims of wars and those who lost their lives because of their race, religion and/or their political convictions on two separate occasions. The first day is All Hallows Day and the second is the national Memorial Day.
Wiechert stressed that the attendance from everyone there symbolized the strong bond and friendship between the two countries, and a tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country, like the American and German soldiers in their final resting place on Fort Bragg.
The guest speaker for the ceremony, United Kingdom Brig. Gen. Giles Hill, deputy commanding general- interoperability for the 82nd Airborne Division, spoke of the differences in the relationships among the countries over time. He pointed out that each country, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany had all been at war with each other at some point throughout history, but he spoke to the lasting relationships and friendships the countries have forged with one another today.
“God bless the United Kingdom, God bless Germany and God bless the United States,” said Hill, ending his speech.
The observance ended with the placing of the ceremonial wreath on one of the eight German Soldier’s graves and rendering a final salute to all those who have given their lives for their country.