This is part 2 of a series about the Mission Belle monument unveiled 29 September 2018 in the Netherlands.
Yesterday I wrote about The Mission Belle – Freedom Demands Responsibility. Today I would like to continue the story of the day’s events.
After lunch there was a briefing conducted by Joe, a retired Army soldier who had been stationed in Germany for many years. He took command of the airmen and did an incredible job re-enacting a mission briefing for the families. One thing we should always remember about military research – no matter what war we are talking about – is there is always something new to learn. It doesn’t matter how many military reports you’ve read or veterans you’ve spoken to, there is always more to learn. Seemingly small details that played a big role in a service member’s day, missions, life, and death. I learned quite a lot listening to Joe speak.
Then the families had some time to gather outside and look at the vehicles prior to loading up in the WWII trucks to take them to the monument site just down the road.
Johan and I chose to drive ourselves and had to park about 1/4 mile away. Walking closer to the monument we were surprised to see the large crowd gathered. The Dutch tend to come out for commemorations and monument unveilings, but this was the largest crowd I’ve seen at a commemoration here so far. One newspaper article reported over 300 people in attendance. I would agree.
Several speeches were given and of course the children participated by reading poems. Dutch children participate in every commemoration because Freedom isn’t Free or a Given. Dutch children are taught about WWII and the lasting effects in the hope that history will not repeat itself.
After the speeches, wreaths were laid by the Mission Belle Foundation, the Americans, the family members, the city, and other organizations. Then the families came up to lay their flower bouquets around the monument.
Two drummers moved in and then Taps was played. Following Taps, the American and Dutch National Anthems were played as the flags were raised. Apollo from the movie Band of Brothers was played and then two airplanes did a fly over once, turned around and did a missing man formation over us as they flew back to their base. It was a beautiful ending to a moving ceremony.
I was able to speak to one of the sons of an airman, both before we went to the monument and after the unveiling. He was so moved and a bit overwhelmed by the day’s events and emotions, in a good way. He too was surprised at how many people came to the event, that the children participated, and the beautiful words spoken in the speeches. I have the awareness he found a lot of peace and closure – for that I am grateful.
As I write this, the families are at Margraten visiting the graves of two of the crew members. There are a few other activities planned before the families depart. I hope they all find some answers and peace they were seeking. I hope we all continue to share the stories of the war and create a peace-filled future.
Would you like to read one more article about the day’s events, from a different perspective? Read The Mission Belle – Following the Flight Path on my site, Finding the Answers Journey. I hope you enjoy this gallery of photos.
Also visit the site of the Mission Belle, specifically the NEWS section and FILES sections for more resources.
© 2018 World War II Research & Writing Center