BASTOGNE, Belgium – Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Tod D. Wolters attended the 75th anniversary Battle of the Bulge 'Nuts Fair' commemoration in Bastogne, Belgium on December 14, 2019.
The annual commemoration honours the battle where American, British, Canadian, French, Luxembourgian and Belgian forces fought the Germans in the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium from December 16, 1944 until January 25, 1945.
"What a distinct privilege it is to be here today to celebrate those that have come before us wearing the cloth of our nations in support of a peaceful and prosperous world," said General Wolters. "On this 75th anniversary, it is important that we take the time to reflect on this battle and I cannot thank the city of Bastogne enough for the care and emphasis they put in to preserving our shared histories."
The appropriately titled 'Nuts Fair' derives its playful name from a very serious episode in World War II's legacy. On December 22, 1944 a group of German soldiers approached the American camp in southern Bastogne.
The German's had a written message intended for the camp's commander, calling the allied powers to surrender. Brigadier General Anthony C. McAulliffe immediately and famously replied to the opposition's camp, "Nuts!"
Each year the city of Bastogne immortalises Brigadier General McAuliffe's famous response with a festival and throwing of nuts from the city's town hall building. After the nuts throwing, General Wolters joined various distinguished guests in a ceremony paying tribute to the 30 veterans present and their fallen comrades.
"Its and honour for us to welcome you (veterans), which we do with great emotion," said Benoît Lutgen, the mayor of Bastogne. "No one in this room can imagine what you endured during the days and weeks that followed the surprise attack in mid-December 1944, the cold, the fear, the vicious end-to-end fighting on our ground... Bastogne will never forget your sacrifice; Belgium will never forget our debt to the American people. You were out liberators, you will be our heroes forever."
The commemoration runs from December 13 through 15 culminating in a military vehicle parade where more than one hundred military vehicles from the period drive through the main street of Bastogne.