Ambassador Gidwitz’s remarks
75th anniversary of the Liberation of Mons in the Second World War
Sunday, September 1, 2019
Chers Montois et Chères Montoises, c’est un grand honneur d’être parmi vous aujourd’hui.
I’d like to thank Mayor Martin, the City of Mons, the War Heritage Institute, our friends from SHAPE, and all the museum staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to organize this important ceremony today.
On this day 75 years ago, U.S. Army Major John Randolph Tucker drove into Mons on his Stuart tank as part of an armored reconnaissance battalion, effectively being the first to liberate this city.
I was pleased to learn that Major Tucker returned to Mons in 1989 and drove back into town on his old tank and joined you in celebrating the anniversary of the liberation. Sadly, he passed away in 2015, but I’ve no doubt he would be proud to see all of you here today.
This year is especially poignant, as we come together to remember many of the most important milestones of the Second World War. We recently marked 75 years since the June 1944 Normandy invasion, and we will commemorate the upcoming Market Garden airborne offensive in a few weeks. In December we’ll honor the courageous stand made by American soldiers to turn back Hitler’s last offensive during the Battle of the Bulge.
Our modern-day relationship with Belgium was built on the individual sacrifices of the soldiers who fought and died liberating Europe from tyranny. As we work with Belgium to defend ourselves from modern threats that jeopardize peaceful democratic norms, the sacrifices of these soldiers remain the beating heart of today’s Trans-Atlantic alliance. To all the active duty service members from the Belgian and American forces here today: Thank you for your service.
I’ve already attended numerous ceremonies around the country and I’m incredibly impressed by the expressions of gratitude and the genuine warmth and affection that the people of Belgium have for all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in both world wars.
So many of you have told me that you can never do enough to honor the fallen and I could not agree more.
We Americans are in turn equally grateful to all of you who keep these memories alive for future generations as a reminder that freedom comes sometimes with a heavy price.
By standing together, we did not simply persevere, but we emerged victorious and stronger and created a united and enduring Trans-Atlantic friendship. We must continue to work together to safeguard our democracies, economies, and liberties.
We must always fight for the promise of what can be and what should be. May we continue to stand together on the broad shoulders of those whose brave deeds and sacrifices we honor today and let these events that we commemorate here today never be forgotten.