Memorial Day Ceremonies
Saturday, May 24, 2003

Memorial Day Ceremonies at Henri-Chapelle were in the rain this year,
but for the very first time, due to an unbelievably kind offer from Régine and Bernard
Achten-Villers of Liège, Belgium, 24 members of AWON were able to remember
their Fathers and an Uncle with the laying of a beautiful wreath.

The red, white, and blue wreath was prepared by Aubel Fleurs, a florist
in Aubel, nearby, who outdid themselves for this remembrance.


The wreath was presented by our representatives, Régine and Bernard Achten-Villers,
and by Roger Marquet, Board Member of CRIBA, the Center for Research
and Information on the Battle of the Ardennes (Bulge).

We sent our Fathers' (and Uncle's) names on a separate banner,
which as you can see (above) was attached to the wreath by Aubel Fleurs.

Bernard and Régine Achten-Villers and Roger Marquet
are joined here by the military to honor our Fathers.

 

Henri-Chapelle is the resting place for 7,989 killed in WWII.

 

An Overview -- after the ceremonies -- showing the many wreaths presented.

 

Régine and Bernard arranged for the wreath.

 

Bernard with the wreath for our Fathers and Uncle.

 

Close-up of the wreath presented by Régine and Bernard
to remember our 24 Fathers and Uncle.

The event even made the papers. Régine arranged for the coverage, translated,
then sent us the article published in La Meuse Verviers.

Memorial Day at the American cemetery
For the first time, the orphans of American soldiers lay a wreath for their fathers

-- by Dominique Coune --


Of the American cemeteries settled on Belgian soil, the one at Henri-Chapelle is the largest. With its small crosses erected in memory of the 7,989 American soldiers who fell during World War Two, it stretches over 23 hectares and is divided between the villages of Aubel and Plombières.


Each year it welcomes a ceremony of the remembrance, "Memorial Day" as the English-speakers say, and every year American and Belgian people enjoy meeting up and sharing a moment of meditation in memory of those who came from over the Atlantic and gave their life to liberate the Belgian soil from the Nazi domination. This year again the tradition was respected and this Saturday many veterans (some of whom came specially from America) went to the American cemetery of Henri-Chapelle and took part in this program of the souvenir during which appropriate speeches were made by James B. Begg, president of the American Overseas Memorial Day Association, Georges Lickens, mayor of Plombières, Lieutenant General Timothy A. Kinnan and Brenda B. Schoonover, chargée d’affaires (representative) of the United States of America. The ceremony was marked by the usual flying over of military planes and the laying of up to 80 wreaths.


However, this 2003 edition of Memorial Day at the American cemetery of Henri-Chapelle was marked by a première! Régine Villers and her husband, Bernard Achten, from Liège, have adopted three graves of American soldiers. While searching for information about those adopted soldiers on the web, she found the site of an organization which brings together sons and daughters of killed or missing American soldiers: AWON. This organization was created in 1991 and has located over 1,000 orphans of American soldiers but estimates their number at least at 183,000. Its purpose is to locate them, register them, help them in searches and exchanges, direct them towards useful information sources… As time went by, Régine Achten-Villers became friends through the web with the site’s webmaster whose father rests in Henri-Chapelle… This Saturday the young woman from Liège "made a première" for AWON because, for the first time overseas, a wreath was laid in an American military cemetery on behalf of their children. In Henri-Chapelle, Régine Villers represented 24 orphans… and put a wreath in their names to their fathers’ memory.

AWON, and 24 whose Fathers and Uncle were so remembered here wish to thank
the originators of this first Wreath Laying on behalf of AWON Fathers at Henri-Chapelle:
Régine and Bernard Achten-Villers. Thanks also to Roger Marquet (of CRIBA) and his wife,
Monique, for joining in the presentation of the wreath. And big thanks to Sharon Crowley Edwards
(daughter of SGT William Edward Crowley) for coordinating the project.
Rik Peirson (son of 1LT John Peirson) coordinated the Henri-Chapelle group.

Heartfelt thanks to all of you -- and to all the people of Belgium
from all of us for helping to honor and remember our Fathers and Uncle on this day!
What these men did for Belgium, for America, and for the World . . . will never be forgotten.

In Their Memory