Ambassador Gidwitz Remarks at Mardasson ceremony
Bastogne, December 12, 2020
Secretary Matz, Secretary Michel,
Mayor Lutgen, distinguished guests,
What an honor and an immense pleasure to be back in Bastogne and to announce a new chapter in our enduring partnership.
We’re standing here on a sacred site where 76 years ago, thousands of Americans fought and died for the very freedom we all enjoy today.
As Ambassador, I have no greater responsibility than honoring those American servicemembers who fought to defend Belgium, the United States, and the liberty so dear to us all during the last century’s two world wars.
The global pandemic has temporarily changed the way we celebrate. Sadly, we are unable to have our honored veterans and their families with us in person today. But they are here in spirit and perhaps watching from their homes.
To all those watching online, we’re honored that you are with us. We owe you all a tremendous debt that we’ll never be able to pay back. What we can do is ensure that your sacrifices will never be forgotten.
This memorial is part of that legacy. It was built thanks to the generosity of Belgian citizens as a sign of gratitude to the United States.
I’m honored to announce today that the United States will be managing this site, thanks to a 99-year lease with the government of Belgium that we just signed moments ago. We promise to take great care of it.
Secretary matz, thank you for your leadership. The American Battle Monuments Commission has a sacred mission honoring our fallen heroes. I have no doubt that the Battle of the Bulge Memorial at Mardasson will be greatly enhanced under your stewardship.
Secretary Michel, thank you for all the efforts of the Belgian Buildings Agency to help make this possible.
A special word of thanks to my friend, Mayor Lutgen of Bastogne. Your tireless work in preserving the memory of all those who fought and died in the Battle of the Bulge is second to none. I know how much this means to you and to the people of Bastogne.
Ladies and gentlemen, I know that Bastogne is often called Belgium’s most American city. I agree. And the American people agree. For us, that is a supreme compliment, and we will do everything we can to continue calling Bastogne Belgium’s most American city for many more years to come. Thank you.