Memorial Day Sep. 2012
U.S. Memorial Wereth, September 22, 2012
President of the USMW
All distinguished guest…
On behalf of the USMW committee I'm very happy to welcome all of you today, particularly the
Honorable Howard W. Gutman, ambassador of the United States by the Kingdom of Belgium; Dr Regina
Benjamin, 18th Surgeon General of the U.S. which uncle, Willie Alphonse was a member of the 333r (three
thirty third) FAB and POW, Ms Else Pritchett and Monty, William Pritchett's daughter and grandchild, Ms
Sandra Green, niece of Robert Green, T.J. Coleman, Kip Price and Don King who since 3 years, created in
America the "James Aubrey Stewart Project" and organize each year the "Unity Day" in the Stewart birth
town Piedmont, WV
I'm also happy to see other WWII Veterans in George Ciampa, Bill Ryan and Ken Smith.
We are here together to honor American soldiers who gave their life for us but let us shortly
remember how the USMW started.
2000, after having received a lot of refusals from different people or associations, Lo Creemers, from
the Defense Attaché Office of the American Embassy, asked us, Louis Jonckeau and me to improve a small
monument dedicated to 11 Black Soldiers. Immediately we answered: No problem! "Yes, we can!" And
because we both knew that Adda Rikken was aware about this story and already met the Langer's family,
Louis and I contacted Adda and we three, with help of some people of Wereth, we created ten years ago, the
After moving heaven and earth, only with the help of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and the
Rocks European Chapter, finally, 2004 saw the dedication of this new memorial.
We are very thankful to people who helped us and continue to do it since the beginning of this adventure,
particularly the Rocks, the U.S. Garrison Benelux from Chièvres who also adopted the graves in Henri
Chapelle and, of course, Mrs Marie Shaw, Public officer of the LRMC who always, since 2002, was at our
If I'm really very happy to meet all of you here today, I must tell you that for us, USMW Committee,
the most important people here are Hermann and Tina, who are the last eyewitnesses because they shared
the last meal with the 11 soldiers.
When, 1994 Hermann erected this small stone cross, unlike some others, he never wanted to be
honored or well-known, he never dreamed or thought to be, one day, sitting near some American dignitaries.
Hermann’s issue, was to pay tribute to these soldiers he and his family met in December 1944 and to
inform young people about dictatorship and tyranny.
Joking with his brother in law, he said: "I would be very surprised if, one day, an American came
here to see this cross. Who knows, maybe he would give us a chicklet like the GI's did in 1944!"
Hermann, you dont’ receive a chicklet today but much more: it's the recognition from the 11 families which
children finally emerge from obscurity.
Now 2012, more and more, Americans and from other nations, are coming here to pay tribute to all
African-American Soldiers who gave their youth and their life for our liberty and they all say:
Thank you so much, Hermann. God bless you, God bless your family.
God bless America and God bless Belgium.
Thanks you for your attention.