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An unexpected memorial observance

In the spring of 1960 I was a GI, stationed in Germany at a base near the Mosel River. It was on a train, after a visit to nearby Luxembourg, that a schoolmaster and his students caught my attention.

In the spring of 1960 I was a GI, stationed in Germany at a base near the Mosel River. It was a good location from which to enjoy interesting short trips on breaks from duty. Wishing to relax anonymously, I habitually wore civilian clothes while off base. Several times I took the opportunity to visit nearby Luxembourg.

Once, when returning from one of those visits aboard what resembled an American commuter train, I sat behind a group of schoolchildren. From time to time their schoolmaster made observations to them in French, to which they might respond. At one point he turned and arose to deliver quite a dramatic short speech, making me smile when he said, “le grand Général Patton.”

Suddenly the little train rounded a bend, and all fell silent as we gazed up a steep hillside at the white crosses of Americans soldiers arrayed on the grassy slope.

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