It was December 1944, a brutal month of sleet and snow. Ravaged by
years of war, some thought there would be a reprieve in fighting and
the war was almost over. No one thought the Germans had the energy to
put up a fight in the extreme weather, much less to launch an
aggressive attack. Much to the surprise of the Allies, the Germans did
just that.

The Germans charged through the massive Ardennes forest, planning to
capture the Port of Antwerp and stop American supplies. The Allies
should have known better ñ the Germans used the same route in World
War I and again at the beginning of World War II to their success.

The American defense was mostly made up of fresh, raw troops that had
never fought in battle. Although individual units showed heroic
courage, the American lines were pushed back for miles. German tanks
and infantry smashed through the U.S. Armyís lines and formed a
bubble; thus, the battle was known as the ìBattle of the Bulge.î

Unlike his fellow leaders in the Allied Forces, General George Patton
expected this attack. A student of history, he was prepared for it. In
Southern France, General Patton withdrew his troops from another
battle and turned north to engage the Germans in the Battle of the
Bulge.

In unbelievably frigid conditions, General Patton moved 100 miles
north, passing through Luxembourg and rescuing the 101st Airborne at
Bastogne. Thanks to Pattonís Army, the German advance was stopped,
Antwerp was never captured and the Germans retreated back to Germany
for good. The U.S. was victorious, but not without cost: 81,000
casualties. This was the bloodiest battle for the U.S. in World War
II.

Today, 32% of Americans killed in wars are buried overseas. 5,076 of
the young, American boys from the Battle of the Bulge remain today in
Luxembourg. On 50.5 acres of land, donated by the Mayor, their bodies
are buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial.
Luxembourg had served as the headquarters for General Pattonís Third
Army. There, he was buried with his boys after being killed in an
automobile accident in 1945.

I recently visited the cemetery and was taken aback by it.  Shaped
like a horseshoe, the graves are formed in perfectly symmetrical lines
and decorated with white glistening crosses and stars of David. In it,
there are 22 sets of brothers, 2 Medal of Honor recipients and 151
Texans. General Pattonís grave is centered at the top of the cemetery,
positioned so that when you stand at his grave and face the tombstones
of his soldiers, you get a surreal sense of him still addressing his
troops.

My dad was a soldier in Pattonís Third Army; he was one of the lucky
ones that came back home. Some of his buddies in World War II returned
home and transitioned back to their lives. Some returned home with the
wounds of war. Some never made it back home alive, but their bodies
were taken back to their families. And, some are buried in lands
consecrated by their blood, such as Luxembourg. We remember them all
because the worst casualty of war is to be forgotten. This Memorial
Day ñ and always - we remember. And thatís just the way it is.