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Nijmegen memorial

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Nijmegen memorial

Postby DylanGould » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:54 pm

As Mikhail is starting up a Market Garden campaign, I've been doing some surfing. From War History Online:

NIJMEGEN, the Netherlands — When Henny Meijer was 2 years old, his hometown was liberated by American soldiers. Hearing the commotion on the street, his 8-year-old brother ran to greet them with a neighbor — a woman who was handing the Americans orange flowers — when a soldier threw himself on the boy. Only after the soldier got up did Mr. Meijer’s brother see why. The woman with flowers was dead, hit by shrapnel from an artillery shell. “You have to realize what a nasty time it was,” Mr. Meijer, now 72, recalled in an interview. “It was a world without any justice.” His brother is no longer alive, but Mr. Meijer has devoted much of his own life to preserving the memory of that time, so that future generations will never repeat it. The role the Americans played holds a special place not only for him, but for the town itself, and it, too, has sought to commemorate their part in an equally special way writes nytimes.com

Last year, Nijmegen completed a showpiece bridge connecting the old and new parts of the rapidly growing community, which today numbers about 170,000, straddling the Waal River, near the German border. The elegant four-lane brick and steel structure, which was built at a cost of 141 million euros and designed to last at least a century, is named De Oversteek, Dutch for “the crossing,” in memory of the bold daylight crossing of the river by the Americans that day — Sept. 20, 1944 — 70 years ago when Mr. Meijer’s brother ran out to greet them.

The crossing will be commemorated with a re-enactment by current members of the 82nd Airborne Division, using foldable boats and paddles or rifle butts — not engines — to get across the mighty arm of the Rhine. At least one original member of the 82nd Airborne, Maj. T. Moffatt Burriss, 94, who was portrayed by Robert Redford in the 1977 film “A Bridge Too Far,” is scheduled to take part in the day’s events. On the other 364 evenings of the year, the 48 fallen soldiers are honored by 48 street lamps spanning the bridge that light up in slow succession at dusk, roughly at the speed it would take a pedestrian to cross the bridge, said the bridge’s designer, Chris Poulissen.

“Every day at sunset, we will remember the Americans that were killed for the liberation of our country,” said Paul Depla, a former city alderman instrumental in securing funding for the bridge and ensuring its sophisticated design.The daring mission that is commemorated nightly was a tiny part of Operation Market Garden, in which about 30,000 Allied soldiers tried — but failed — to secure a number of bridges behind enemy lines in the Netherlands on a road leading into Germany. At the time, it was the largest airdrop operation on the books. Nijmegen was a little town on the road toward Arnhem, the mission’s ultimate destination.
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