FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. – Fort George G. Meade held a joint wreath-laying ceremony Sunday, November 19, 2023, alongside representatives from Germany and Italy in honor of the two Italian and 33 German World War II prisoners of war buried at the post cemetery.
Maj. Gen. Trevor Bredenkamp, Commander of the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, and Lt. Col. Chaveso Cook, Fort Meade Headquarters Command Battalion, welcomed Rear Adm. Axel Ristau, German Defense and Naval Attaché; Col. Paolo Scimone, Italian Military Attaché to the U.S., and guests to pay tribute to those who did not return home.
“Today, we continue a tradition that began just 12 short years ago to recognize the strength of the alliance between our countries and service members,” Bredenkamp said. “Our world has changed a great deal since these young service members were laid to rest. I am humbled to join with representatives from both Germany and Italy to remember and honor the sacrifices made by their countrymen.”
Fort Meade was one of 19 camps where German and Italian prisoners were shipped, receiving 1,600 Germans and 58 Italians in September of 1943. Some of those prisoners died during their captivity and were buried at the installation.
“This location is unique however, as it is the only internment site for foreign prisoners of war in the state of Maryland and remains a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who served their nation in a time of war,” Bredenkamp said.
A common duty and knowledge of the danger facing them is a universal understanding between Soldiers that transcends country lines, according to Ristau.
“That is why there will always be a universal common remembrance,” Ristau said. “That is why we are assembling here today remembering fallen German Soldiers resting among Soldiers from other nations who we never met or spoken a word together.”
In his remarks, Scimone stated the freedoms the United States and its allies enjoy today come from the sacrifices made by millions of Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen who fought before, during and after World War II.
“We may change how we operate our weapons, structure and procedures, and it is all part of the business, but the ideals that move us and the examples of our heroes remains steady; unaffected by the flow of time,” Scimone said. “Like our ancestors, we stand together, and we fight together. They did it yesterday, now it is our turn and it’s also our responsibility to inspire our successors.”
Ristau noted there is no better place to start the path for peace than at a war cemetery because it raises awareness of what war means.
“It is precisely this place here that reminds us to differentiate between those who are actually responsible and those who are followers and those who are forced to fight a war that you at the end of the day tried to avoid,” Ristau said. “Let us use this day as a day of understanding, a day to learn from the past and a day not to tolerate violence or to be guided by prejudices for a peaceful future.”
In honor of the fallen, Maj. Rick Barnes of the Maryland Defense Band, Matthew Canales of Howard High School and Connor Wright of Bugles Across America played renditions of “TAPS,” “Der gute Kamerad,” and “Il Silenzio d’Ordinanza,” respectively.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, those in attendance were given time to pay their individual respects to the fallen and to mingle before being invited to share lunch at the Freedom Inn Dining Facility here.
|Date Posted:||11.21.2023 14:32|
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