Another country! Luxembourg is a small country surrounded by Belgium, France and Germany. And those are the languages all the people speak, plus English of course; almost everyone speaks English these days. It is mostly rural, with the dense Ardennes forest and nature parks in the north, rocky gorges of the Mullerthal region in the east and the Moselle river valley in the southeast. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is famed for its fortified medieval old town perched on sheer cliffs. The City is also one of the four official capitals of the European Union (together with Brussels, Frankfurt, and Strasbourg). The repeated invasions by Germany, especially in WWII, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union.
Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy, like many other countries in Europe, Britain included. The King, Queen, or in this case, the Grand Duke, heads the country but only for diplomatic purposes. He has no constitutional power or authority. And the people love their royal family, just like in Britain.
Luxembourg is a developed country, with an advanced economy and one of the world's highest GDP per capita. The population is only 600,000 people.
After our walking tour of the city, we ate lunch in a local restaurant. They served us quiche lorraine; and a mighty quiche it was too, 4 inches thick and full of ham not bacon.
In the afternoon, we visited the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. In its 50 acres, it holds 5073 American war dead, including General George S. Patton. It is administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission as are all overseas cemeteries.
Most of the men served under General Patton in the US Third Army. Here's the story:
On a wintry mid-December day in 1944, three powerful German armies plunged into the semi-mountainous, heavily forested Ardennes region of eastern Belgium and northern Luxembourg. Their goal was to reach the sea, trap the four allied armies there, and impel a negotiated peace on the Western front.
Thinking the forest of the Ardennes was the least likely spot for a German offensive, American Commanders chose to keep the line thin, so that the manpower might concentrate on offensives north and south of the Ardennes. Even though the German offensive achieved total surprise, nowhere did the American soldiers give an inch of ground without a fight. Within three days, the determined Americans stood their ground and with the arrival of powerful reinforcements insured that the ambitious German goal was far beyond reach. In snow and sub-freezing temperatures the Germans fell short of their interim objective-that of reaching the sprawling Meuse River on the fringe of the Ardennes. Four weeks later, after grim fighting, with heavy losses on both the American and German sides, the Bulge ceased to exist. It was called The Battle of the Bulge. Winston Churchill called it the greatest American battle of the Second World War.
While at the cemetery, Grand Circle arranged a special ceremony for us. They had all us veterans lay a wreath at the Memorial. It was very special.
The weather was special for us too. It was sunny but cold all day. Wundebar!!