I continue to be impressed and humbled with how much Belgians remember the sacrifices made by others for their freedoms. No one asks them to do it, nor do I think the Belgians themselves make any effort to let Americans back in the States know what they do. They remember Americans of my Grandfathers generation just because they want to, I don’t think I will ever stop being amazed by this fact.

This weekend Mons marked the anniversary of their liberation from the Nazis. Mons was the first city in Belgium to be liberated (2 September). In remembering this event, Belgians, French, Spanish and others dress as US Service members did during WWII.

Seeing Belgians remember Americans for what we did means a lot to me, not just because I wear a uniform today, but also because one of my Grandfathers served in Belgium as an ordnance officer during WWII.

A block from my Apartment I ran into General Patton. He didn’t speak alick of English. But, he did carry a picture of the General with him in his wallet, which if I understood him, his father took back in 1944.

Most of those dressed as GIs wore the 101st unit patch, despite the fact that it was the 1st Infantry Division which came through Mons. The fact that Band of Brothers centered around a unit from the 101st, is what I assume to the reason why so many Screaming Eagles were present today.

I’ve been told that Mons displays more tanks and American WWII vehicles for their liberation day than anywhere else in the World. The Grand Place isn’t a small square by any means and today it was filled with vehicles.

I am not able to identify the class of Tank with the yellow “F-12” on it. But, the building behind it was standing when we came through Mons (its been there since the 1500s).

This is the second time that Belgians have humbled me with how they remember their and America’s shared history. What makes it mean the most, I think, is that no one asks them to remember America’s part in their history. They don’t have to wear American uniforms, or lovingly restore parts of America’s history. But they do, and what’s more is that when you talk to them and they hear your American accent, they are surprised that an American is even there.

Though, out of everything I saw today, I think I got the biggest kick out of the ‘Sailor’ I met today wearing Utilities that she though were dungarees. I still have my utilities and there is always next year.

Posted by CTR1(SW) H. Lucien Gauthier III in Army, History, Navy, Travel

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  • Looks like an M3 Stuart light tank to me…

  • Jim Qualey

    Appears to be a US M-5 light tank. The same vehicle as shown on this web site:


  • Jim Qualey

    BTW, I spent a Saturday driving around the Ardennes back in 1998 and was very impressed in Belgium by the number and quality of the memorials to our WWII troops. I, too, was left with the distinct impression that the Belgians truly appreciate the sacrifices made to liberate them.

  • Emilio

    I am probably one of the few Italian vocal in appreciating what the Americans, British, Poles and almost everybody from the Allied Forces did to free Italy (no, the rapes and pillaging from the french african troops is NOT appreciated).

    There is the usual leftist minority which says that Italy was freed by the Italian resistance, and that the Americans should have gone and freed France instead (“you know, you ignorant dumbass, they did that, TOO!”).

    Most of the rest of the Italians do not know what happened during WWII, mostly thanks to the militarization of the teachers during the ’70s by the PCI, and most of those who know simply do not mention it for “quieto vivere”, to avoid being labelled as fascists only for daring to say that Italy was freed by the Allies and not by the resistenza…

    Funny fact is that the only political figure which stated the fact publicly is Silvio Berlusconi, and he does that often, and he did that in his speech to the Congress in 2006. But, after all, he is to be considered a fascist whatever happens.

  • What a great show.

  • Paul

    Yup, it is an M-5, a later version of the M-3 Stuart. They improved the front glacis plate and added other refinements.

    I’ve never been over there, but understand that those countries take liberation very seriously, and even celebrated the anniversary of the Marshall Plan a few years back. Ask any young adult about that today and you’ll get a blank stare. Sad how we lose sight of what we’ve done in the past.

  • Old Air Force Sarge

    Nice post YN2. In my seven years in NATO I learned to love the Belgians. They don’t forget. I went to a number of memorials to the crew of the “Joker” (B-17 shot down in the Ardennes) at La Roche. They used to do it every year (I was at Geilenkirchen from 1992 to 1999). I wonder if they still do that? I’ll bet they do.

    I’m thinking the 101st is remembered in Belgium primarily for their stand at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

    Also, thanks for the great pictures!

  • Fouled Anchor

    Great post, great photos…great lessons. Well done YN2.

  • Paul

    Personally, I’d love to own a Sherman tank (M-4A1 with the 76mm tube) but I don’t think my wife (or bank account) could fund that kind of commuter ride.