Suozzi Commemorates 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge
This weekend, Congressman Tom Suozzi (D – Long Island, Queens) participated in a bipartisan Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. Suozzi and the Members of Congress paid tribute and partook in ceremonies in both Belgium and Luxembourg honoring those who fought in one of the most important battles in World War II.
“This experience was truly sobering and humbling. Seventy-five years later, our nation is still humbled by the courage and fortitude of the American soldiers as they endured bitter cold, the lack of supplies or winter gear, while surrounded by enemy fire,” said Suozzi. “Let us continue to be mindful of their sacrifices by lifting up and elevating our discourse. May we never forget the service and sacrifice of our ‘Greatest Generation.’”
On Saturday, Congressman Suozzi participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the General George S. Patton Memorial in Bastogne, Belgium, where he met with General Tod D. Wolters, Commander, U.S. European Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe. A second wreath-laying ceremony took place at the McAuliffe Memorial in Bastogne. General Anthony McAuliffe was the Commander of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division that defended Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. At that ceremony, Suozzi met with Major General Brian Winski, who is today's Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division. Suozzi also met with the Mayor of Bastogne, Benoît Lutgen, who expressed his deep gratitude to the American people and particularly to our veterans.
At Saturday's Battle of the Bulge ceremonies, Congressman Suozzi had the opportunity to meet with 94-year old Vincent Speranza, a machine gunner from the 101st Airborne Division. Speranza, originally from Staten Island, has written a book about his wartime experiences, "Nuts!" He is, perhaps, most well-known for helping his fellow soldiers who were injured and sought refuge in a makeshift hospital in a bombed-out church. Surrounded by Germans and out of supplies, Speranza found a working beer tap in a devasted tavern. He filled up his helmet, making several trips back and forth to bring the wounded soldiers all that was available...beer. In Speranza's honor, a local brewery in Bastogne brews "Airborne Beer," which bears a photo of Speranza on the label. The Belgian brown ale is ceremoniously served in a ceramic helmet.
“What a great story. What a great man,” said Suozzi of his meeting with Speranza.
On Sunday, Congressman Suozzi attended a solemn ceremony in the Bois Jacques, just outside Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division's "Easy Company" fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Traces of the battle are still visible in the woods today including foxholes and cavities dug into the ground in order to protect the American soldiers from hostile fire.
On Monday, the 75th anniversary of the day that the Germans launched their last major offensive of WWII, the Battle of the Bulge, Suozzi traveled to Luxembourg to attend ceremonies at the Luxembourg American Cemetery. The ceremony honored the thousands of Americans who gave their lives in what was one of the costliest ever fought by the U.S. Army, which suffered nearly 89,500 casualties, including 19,000 killed. Suozzi, along with General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid his respects at the grave of General George S. Patton, whose leadership and military prowess restored the Allied front and set the stage for the final drive to victory and the end of the war in Europe.
On Friday, ahead of his departure for Belgium, Congressman Suozzi met with a veteran of the historic battle at his District Office in Huntington.
Mr. Eugene Leavy, of East Northport, who enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from high school, was still a teenager in December of 1944, when he participated in the Battle of the Bulge as a member of the 100th Infantry Division. The 94-year old shared with the Congressman his experiences as an 18-year old infantryman during the brutally cold winter of 1944.
“This weekend, I carried the stories of horror and heroism, like Eugene Leavy’s and so many more, with me. We must never forget the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought from foxholes in frigid conditions to secure the freedoms that we enjoy today,” said Suozzi.