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Bastogne War Museum Review
What you don’t know going in is that when you come out, you will be scarred for life ... you are never, ever going to be the same. - William Guarnere
As a soldier who understands the horrors of war and the importance of freedom, there is no greater privilege to me than keeping the legacies of our World War II Veterans alive. It is because of their heroism I am able to be alive today.
So when I get an opportunity to visit WWII battlefields or museums, I take advantage of it in order to honor those men and women who sacrificed so much. It is something I must do!
The Battle of the Bulge was the bloodiest and most critical battle during the war. It was the last major offensive for the Germans and the Allies were greatly under-supplied and stretched thin. It was extremely cold and our troops were ill prepared for what waited for them. The war crimes and atrocities committed by the Waffen SS were unfathomable.
Yet the American Spirit prevailed, and despite the costs, we achieved success.
The area of Bastogne and the surrounding area of the Ardennes Forest are hallowed grounds. I know men who fought there and whose lives would be forever changed by what they experienced during those five weeks of hell.
While I was not able to spend enough time in this region and certainly plan on returning, I did have the chance to visit the Bastogne War Museum in Belgium. It was well worth it!
Words cannot express the incredible display of gratitude the locals have for their WWII liberators. The way in which these heroes are honored is epic. And while the Bastogne War Museum can only capture a fraction of the historical importance of the Battle of the Bulge, it is one of the best museums I've visited.
The exhibitions and displays are fantastic and you will learn so much by walking through this museum. You will see some rare German vehicles, along with several artifacts from Patton, in addition to items that continue to be found on this large battlefield. You can shop for a variety of gifts or drink an Airborne beer in honor of those who fought. There's also a large, beautiful memorial on the grounds.
Yet the most touching part was seeing The Portraits of American Sacrifice display where many of my WWII friends were highlighted on the walls.
Tom Rice, George Mullins, Richard Rohleder, Howard Buford, and Vincent Speranza are all men I've had the privilege to meet and know.
After my time in the museum I took my Airborne beer to the 101st Airborne Division memorial and gave a salute-filled toast to these guys and the thousands of others I never got to thank. As tears rolled down my face I was reminded the cost of freedom is never free. I hope that we all will never forget that!
The Bastogne War Museum is a must stop when visiting Belgium, and if you're fortunate to have more time, there are plenty of other WWII memorials and museums in the area to check out.
Thomas Rice, 101st Airborne Division, fought at the exact location my Dutch grandparents ran their underground operations. He was directly involved with their liberation from the Germans. RIP Paratrooper!