BASTOGNE, Belgium — Amid snow flurries and a chilling wind, Belgium's King Albert II honored U.S. soldiers who died fighting Nazi Germany 60 years ago in the Battle of the Bulge, the largest land battle for American forces in war.
Veterans from across the United States returned Saturday to find this market town that was at the center of the fighting much as it was on that bitter cold December in 1944 — covered in snow and buffeted by wind.
The old soldiers, wearing military berets and caps, were greeted with warm applause, hugs and kisses from a grateful crowd that lined the streets.
"I'm very happy to see so many people come out for this event," said Miasy Dumont, 68, from nearby Ludelange, Luxembourg. "This is the last time I'm sure. In 10 years there will be no more veterans."
The king, joined by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill, led a commemoration and laid wreaths at the vast Mardasson memorial on the edge of town. The ceremony paid homage to the 19,000 American soldiers killed and about 61,000 wounded in the largest land battle for U.S. forces in World War II. The fighting also claimed 120,000 German lives.