Neat rows of tombstones uniformly spaced on a manicured lawn characterize the aesthetic of the Fort Bragg Main Post Cemetery, but upon closer examination visitors my notice a variation, an interruption in the uniform lines.
Row 26 stands out.
Per U.S. Army regulations, enemy combatants must be buried at least 10 feet from the graves of American Soldiers, U.S. military veterans or their dependents. Row 26 is a product of these Army regulations.
According to several history sources, eight World War II-era prisoners of war, one Austrian-born, one Yugoslavian-born and six German prisoners of war are buried in Row 26. One died by suicide, four from serious illness or infection and three in accidents.
The German soldier POWs buried in these graves were remembered with a moment of silence and a wreath laying ceremony, Nov. 30.
A testament to the progress made since World War II, the ceremony welcomed all who wished to remember soldiers, victims of war and those who lost their lives because of their race, religion and or political convictions, explained Lt. Col. Markus Stobbe, German liaison officer to U.S. Special Operations Command.
Capt. (Chaplain) Yisahar A. Izak, 188th Brigade Support Battalion, explained his attendance was to show support for the approximately 300 Jewish Soldiers serving in the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces.
Izak said that the hope is for the introduction of Holocaust studies and the possibility of introducing a commissioned Jewish chaplain into the ranks of Bundeswehr.
“I am here to have a presence, to support the Jewish soldiers in the German Armed Forces, as well as, the idea of more cooperation between the Jewish community and the German Armed Forces,” said Izak.
The memorial was organized to coincide with two German holidays to remember the dead, All Hallows or Allerheiligentag, which fell on Nov. 1 this year and Volkstrauertag, Germany’s day of remembrance for those who perished in armed conflict, on Nov. 19.
“Even if they fought for maybe the wrong political reasons in the past, it doesn’t matter,” said Stobbe.
“The main reason for gathering here today is pause, remember all the fallen Soldiers including the eight Germans resting here in peace side-by-side with many other brave Soldiers,” he said.
This is the 16th year that the German liaisons to Fort Bragg have hosted this event.
“Who would have imagined this 70 years ago? We were fighting against each other and now we are on the same mission in different countries and fighting for the same cause,” said Stobbe.
“People should not forget that it was this way, but it can be the other way around, now-a-days we are allies and partners,” he continued.
Uschi McGlamery and Juanita Davenport, who were in attendance, are both German spouses of former Green Berets.
“For me, it’s just nice because, since I am not in Germany, those two holidays, I cannot be there, so it is really nice to come here and show the respect,” said McGlamery.
It’s very important to show respect for fallen, agreed Davenport.
Stobbe expressed his hope that during the memorial next year he would see more of the German community in and around Fayetteville in attendance.