• Last modified 7410 days ago (Dec. 31, 2003)
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M and Ms receive Legion of Honor award

It's almost Christmas and time to write to our friends. Time goes so fast when you are busy. We hope that you are doing fine, just as we are.

We had two "big" events this year. The first was to finally be able to find one of the very first American soldiers who came to liberate our town Sept. 11, 1944 — Bill Clements. We were waiting and searching for years for the names of the very first soldiers who came through our town. We found them through the help and visit of John Tait, who's father also was in the very first jeep, but who died a few years ago.

Bill was a soldier of the 1st Engineer Combat Battalion. We invited Bill, and he and his family came to visit us for 10 days last May. So we organized, on May 3, a nice day to celebrate his return.

The second event was when we received on June 18 the Legion of Honor Award of the Chapel of the Four Chaplains. The Legion of Honor Program is established to publicly recognize people who have rendered selfless service to humanity without regard to race, religion, or creed. It was given to both of us in Oetrange at the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

The four Army chaplains were on a troop transport ship the USAT Dorchester, which was carrying 902 servicemen, merchant seamen, and civilian workers.

On Feb. 3, 1943, a German submarine spotted the Dorchester and fired torpedoes. The hit was deadly and the Dorchester took water rapidly and sunk in 27 minutes. Quickly and quietly the four chaplains spread out among the soldiers. They tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded, and guide the disoriented toward safety. When there were no more life jackets in the storage room, the chaplains removed theirs and gave them to four frightened young men. Of the 902 men aboard, 672 died, leaving 230 survivors.

We were very honored and surprised to receive that special award, as we think we do nothing special when you think about the extraordinary faith, courage, and selflessness of the four chaplains.

Besides that, we think that it is our duty to remember and keep the memory alive of all those brave soldiers.

We asked you in our previous Christmas card why the American M&Ms have four fingers compared to the Belgian M&Ms who have five fingers? The answer is: the American M&Ms are cartoon figures, but the Belgian M&Ms are two human beings dedicated to the Greatest Generation.

May the road come your way, may the wind blow at your back, may the sun shine in your face, may the rain fall on your garden, and may God bless you until our next meeting.

Affectionately, your Belgian friends

Mathilde and Marcel