MONS, Belgium – As the sun began to rise over the picturesque town of Mons, Belgium the echoes of history were awakened by the rumbling of tanks and military vehicles. This year’s liberation anniversary which ran from August 26-27, 2023, was more than just a military procession marking the liberation of Mons by the U.S. Soldiers 79 years ago; for many, it is their way of remembering what their families endured under Nazi rule, and being grateful they now live in a free and secure nation thanks to the Americans.
The momentous occasion saw soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment (1-37 AR), 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (2ABCT), 1st Armored Division move through the streets of Mons as people young and old, waved out their windows, balconies, front doors, and roadways as they witnessed an American M2 Bradley roar past their homes. The 2ABCT paid homage to the valor of the past while forging connections with the present by embedding a modern armored combat vehicle in this year’s procession awing the crowds.
For Didier Vandermolen, a resident of Maven, this event held a particularly poignant significance. Vandermolen’s father, now 99 years old, recalls the liberation of his village by American soldiers when he was a teenager. “When the Americans came, I’ll never forget. It was just like it was yesterday,” Vandermolen quoted his father. “They (the Nazi’s) gave him a rifle and told him to stand watch at the entrance of his village. The Americans were coming.” Instead, his father put the rifle down and waved the Americans into his tiny village with welcome arms.
This firsthand account encapsulates the indelible impact of the American forces’ heroic efforts during World War II (WWII), memories passed down through generations.
“This older generation, they still have this emotion in their heart, and that will stay until they die,” Vandermolen added, emphasizing the lasting emotional connection that binds the present to the past. The liberation commemoration serves as a testament to the enduring respect and gratitude for the sacrifices made decades ago.
The 2ABCT played a pivotal role in this year’s observance. Following in the historic tracks of the American armored convoy that drove through the city during the liberation, the brigade added an authentic touch to the festivities. U.S. Army Spc. Dawson Lincoln, an Infantryman assigned to the 1-37 AR, 2ABCT, shared his insights about the significance of their participation.
“It’s an honor for us to be here, representing the legacy of those who fought to liberate this city,” Lincoln stated. “Being part of this event is a reminder of the camaraderie and sacrifice that define our military heritage. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.”
The importance of the brigade’s involvement in the celebration extends beyond historical symbolism. Lincoln noted the warmth and support he and his crew felt from the people as they drove their M2 Bradley over 40 kilometers through the city of Mons and surrounding villages. “The locals here really make us feel like a part of their community,” he said. “It’s a two-way street – we’re here to pay our respects, and they’re showing their appreciation for our service. It’s a unique bond.”
The celebration’s fusion of historical reenactment and contemporary camaraderie was palpable as the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team members participated in various events, including parades and interactive displays. This emotional experience allowed Belgian people to physically connect with U.S. soldiers as many expressed their gratitude as if they were thanking those soldiers 79 years ago.
The ceremonial celebration also provided an opportunity for attendees to gain insight into the technology and tactics of WWII and contemporary armored units. From vintage tanks that once rumbled through the cobblestone streets to the sophisticated armored vehicles of today, the event showcased the evolution of military machinery.
As the day concluded with nostalgic music from the 1940s by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe International Band, the 2ABCT had etched their presence into the heart of the Belgian people. The event’s seamless blend of historical homage and present-day partnership truly highlighted the enduring nature of the ties that bind the two nations.
Looking forward, the legacy of valor and unity will undoubtedly continue to flourish. The liberation anniversary stands not only as a homage to the past but also as a bridge that connects the sacrifices of yesteryears with the aspirations of the future.
Today, the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team soldiers stand ready to train and fight alongside our NATO partners and allies and stop any threat that may arise in the Eastern Flank. The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, headquarters is forward deployed to Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland.
|Date Posted:||08.28.2023 12:47|
This work, The Iron Brigade Celebrates Mons’ 79th Liberation Anniversary, by SPC Trevares Johnson, identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.