On December 15, 2023, the historic town of Bastogne hosted the Liberation Route Europe Youth Event as part of the Nuts Weekend, commemorating the 79th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. Organized by the LRE Foundation, the Bastogne War Museum, the Bastogne Memorial Association, and the City of Bastogne, the event marked the launch of new initiatives related to the Liberation Route Europe project in the Wallonia region, which were made possible thanks to the support of the U.S. Embassy in Belgium.
The expansion of the project aims to highlight the historical significance of the region, paying tribute to the pivotal role of the U.S. Army in the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of the area. Walking along several new routes, which vary in size and theme, visitors get the chance to witness the most significant locations and stories in and around Bastogne, following the footsteps of U.S. troops. Additionally, many new Floor Vectors have been installed, along with two Wall Vectors in Mons and Leopoldsburg, and three in Bastogne. The Vectors of Memory mark out some of the key historical sites in Belgium.
More than 100 students from Henallux College and numerous press representatives actively participated in the event at the Bastogne War Museum and Bastogne City Hall. Attendees had the opportunity to explore new Liberation Route itineraries and historical content thanks to guided walking tours along the Liberation Route trails in Bastogne. The tours led past numerous newly installed Vectors along the route, including the three sites where the new Wall Vectors were officially unveiled: the Bastogne Barracks, the 101st Airborne Museum, and Bastogne City Hall.
At the last of these locations, the City Hall Vector was unveiled in the presence of Mr. Michael M. Adler, U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Benoît Lutgen, Mayor of Bastogne and Rémi Praud, LRE Foundation Managing Director, following a ceremony at the Bastogne City Hall. This ceremony wrapped up the day and marked the official launch of the new Liberation Route Europe Podcast “In the Footsteps of History”, which provides an audio dimension to the historical journey. Through vivid soundtracks and a collection of stories and interviews, the first episodes of this podcast series enable visitors of the Liberation Route to immerse themselves in the profound history of the area. The day was made even more special by the presence of a US veteran and concluded with a reception and warm drinks providing an opportunity for reflection and further discussion.
“The Liberation Route Europe Youth Event in Bastogne exemplifies the collaborative efforts dedicated to expanding educational initiatives and commemorating historical events in Wallonia. The project’s expansion now stands as a tribute to the sacrifices of the Battle of Bulge, inviting visitors to engage with and learn from the shared history of the region.”, says Rémi Praud, LREF Managing Director.
This initiative marks a significant stride in preserving and sharing the rich historical heritage of Bastogne, made possible through the collaborative efforts of the LRE Foundation, the Bastogne War Museum, the City of Bastogne and the support of the U.S. Embassy in Brussels.