The Dedication of the U.S. Wereth Memorial
On May 23, 2004 a dream was realized with the completion and formal dedication of the U.S. Wereth Memorial in Wereth Belgium. The day began with a cold rain but as the time for the dedication neared the sky brightened, the wind died and a beautiful day was enjoyed by the over two hundred attendees. Many people came from Belgium and Holland to attend. A large group from The Rocks organization arrived by bus from Germany in addition to a formal military band and honor guard from the United States Army.
The official party gathered at the Langer house. They included Mrs. Adda Rikken, President of the U.S. Wereth Memorial committee, Gloria Barrow the daughter of one of the surviving members of the 333 F.A.B., Dr. Norman Lichtenfeld, and Tina and Herman Langer, whose father had given food and refuge to the Wereth 11 on December 17, 1944.
Lt. General William E. Ward, followed by many of the attendees, led the official party and color guard. The group walked from the Langer home down the road to the Memorial site- following the same route that the Wereth 11 were marched by their Nazi captors. The military band played patriotic music as the party arrived at the memorial.
Mrs. Adda Rikken welcomed everyone and after further introductions and the invocation Lt. General Ward gave a moving speech in tribute to the valor of all the American G.I.s during the Battle of the Bulge but especially to the African -American G.I.s of WW II who fought and died for their country. He stressed how the sacrifices of soldiers like the Wereth 11 paved the way for the subsequent integration of our armed forces and opened opportunities of equality for Americans of all backgrounds without regards to their race.
The plaques commemorating the memorial, in four languages, were unveiled, in addition to a plaque from the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge.
Finally, the names of each of the Wereth 11 were called while Taps was played.
It was a beautiful and moving ceremony. More importantly it was the culmination of much effort and dedication by many people to remember these murdered men and change the little private memorial, that began in the corner of a cow pasture in an obscure Belgian hamlet, into a proper memorial for all to see and remember. Mrs. Adda Rikken said it best in her welcoming remarks when she spoke " What began with hate- we now end with honor."