This past Veterans Day our Schweinfurt chapters of the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars and the Ladies Auxiliary led both our German and American communities in dedicating the first monument to American Soldiers in Germany outside an US military installation.
As an American community, we give sincere gratitude to the City of Schweinfurt and its citizens for securing the memory of our partnership in the most hallowed of grounds—the old cemetery where over 40,000 souls lay at rest.
Schweinfurt’s Lord Mayor—and great friend of the American community here—Sebastian Remele, spoke eloquently about our long partnership, the deep and lasting friendships forged over the decades in Schweinfurt, and the importance of the eagle in the monument, representing not only the icon of America, but also that of Germany and Schweinfurt.
As the garrison commander, the VFW asked me to talk about the American involvement over the years here in Schweinfurt. As the last of three speakers, I knew I needed to keep it focused. What should we highlight trying to cover over 67 years of American presence in the city?
The clue came in a letter from retired Major General Waldo Freeman, the community commander at the end of the Cold War.
Upon learning of the VFW’s memorial, he wrote the organization. Most insightfully, he stated, “It is sad to see the Army leaving Schweinfurt but this was inevitable. We should be glad the US Army presence in Schweinfurt and throughout West Germany, supported by the local population, actually succeeded.”
How true! As we set our sights on closure, we should remember what this monument means in the larger scale: the American time in Schweinfurt is ending because we have been successful in our strategic goals—to secure peace in Europe.
Dedicated on our Veteran’s Day, and the eve of the modern Bundeswehr’s birthday, this new monument should serve as a reminder that the American time in Schweinfurt marks the longest period of peace in European history.
Pax Europa exists today because, over the decades, American and German Soldiers have stood guard and when needed deployed to secure peace in Europe, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. And we did so with the full support of the great people of the strong city of Schweinfurt. The monument we dedicated on Veteran’s Day will always remind us of that success.