USAFE leader honors fallen heroes at Flanders Field

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Daniel Bellis
  • Det. 4, Air Force News Agency
The commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Airmen and Soldiers stationed in Europe paid tribute over the Memorial Day weekend to 368 U.S. servicemembers buried here who died on the battlefield while liberating Belgium during World War I.

Gen. William T. Hobbins said no amount of time should ever dim the honor and glory so richly deserved by those who make the ultimate sacrifice in honor of their country.

"A day will pass when no one will be able to say they personally knew someone buried in these graves," said General Hobbins before an audience gathered at the 6.2-acres site. "So it is up to each of us to never allow their sacrifices or their heroic actions to be forgotten. By standing here and committing our time and thoughts to the men and women who gave their lives, we honor them and we keep their legacy alive."

Their legacy is important because their lives were special, especially to those who once anxiously awaited their safe return from war, he said.

"Every marker we see here, all 368 of them, represent a son who would never again bring his mother flowers on Mother's Day, a brother who would never again give advice to his siblings, a father whose children would grow up knowing their parent only through photos of the past," General Hobbins said. "Each loss left others to go on, continuing the years of separation, and living in the hope of reuniting some day."

A similar scenario is yet carried out today by those supporting the war on terrorism, the general said.

"I have traveled extensively this past year and had the privilege to witness many of the same characteristics of dedication and sacrifice in today's service men and women," General Hobbins said.

"We owe our liberty and our prosperity to the strength and valor of those who fought here and around the world for freedom ... and continue to do so today," the general said. "We must be guardians of the freedom that was given to us by them and always remember their efforts. We can offer those who have given the ultimate sacrifice no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us. That is our duty. May we forever carry their spirit with us." 

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