Military News

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Luxembourg, US honor freedom's sacrifice during Memorial Day

by Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/26/2015 - LUXEMBOURG -- More than 300 Luxembourgers and Americans paused to reflect on the sacrifices of fallen U.S. service members as part of a Memorial Day ceremony at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Luxembourg, May 23, 2015.

Crown Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg; Xavier Bettel, prime minister of Luxembourg; Alison Shorter Lawrence, deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy in Luxembourg; and U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander, participated in the observance ahead of the American federal holiday May 25 which is dedicated to remembering those who gave their lives while serving in its military.  

"The price for freedom does not come without sacrifice," Roberson said. "Today, we honor the 5,076 brave men and women who fought for freedom's cause and are now laid to rest within these grounds. We honor the families of those who paid the ultimate price, whose loved ones died, or were taken captive and never returned. We remember the missing--the 371 service members yet to be repatriated. You are not forgotten."

The general also highlighted how this year's Memorial Day coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe during World War II.

"We reflect upon the alliances forged in the aftermath of that terrible war and the common bond of trust we share as founding members of NATO since 1949," said the general. "We have worked to find common solutions to common problems for future generations. In these uncertain times, we will continue to reassure our allies of our steadfast NATO commitments.  Today, we honor the legacy that these noble service members started over seventy years ago."

The ceremony commenced with a flyover by two F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The base's Airmen also served as a ceremonial flight in service dress, caretakers of the cemetery's Luxembourg and U.S. flags, and escorts for guests to lay wreaths. The installation's Honor Guard also presented the colors and conducted a ceremonial volley.

"General Eisenhower said to his troops prior to the invasion of Normandy, 'The eyes of the world are upon you...I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle,'" said Roberson, quoting U.S. Army Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, then the Supreme Allied Commander. "Today, we are so grateful for that courage, devotion and skill; as once again, we honor those memorialized here and the legacy they left for generations."

One of the wreath layers included Marilynn Rustand Lieurance, whose father, U.S. Army Air Corps 1st Lt. Hanford "Rusty" J. Rustand, a B-17 bomber pilot assigned to the 323rd Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, is buried at the cemetery. Rustand died when his B-17 came under enemy fire during a mission near Merseburg, Germany, and crashed, Nov. 2, 1944, nearly half a year before Lieurance would be born.

"If you take the time to think of freedom and what it means, then you can realize the sacrifice that all these men and women made and what it meant to them that they gave their life," Lieurance said.  "My dad was 22, and a lot of his crew were 19 and one was 21. Life was just beginning for these young men. They were starting school, thinking about their future and what they were going to do with their life or get married. And yet the country needed them. Their families needed them, but the country needed them more. We all needed them, and I like to say to young people, 'Don't you realize what you have and what you wouldn't have had?' We need to remember these soldiers and what they did."

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May in remembrance of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and has origins beginning with the memorial observances for the Civil War.

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