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Thousands gather to commemorate Battle of the Bulge

Re-enactors dressed in period uniforms drive a jeep through mud and water during an event to commemorate the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. The event, held Dec. 14, 2013, in Bastogne, Belgium, brought in participants and re-enactors from around the United States and Europe.

BASTOGNE, Belgium — World War II briefly returned to this Belgian crossroads Saturday, as thousands of re-enactors and spectators descended on the town to commemorate the 1944 Battle of the Bulge.

Participants walked up to 22 kilometers, or roughly 13 miles as re-enactors used period uniforms, weapons, and vehicles to give the countryside an authentic World War II vibe. The re-enactors and participants included people from across Europe and the United States.

Bastogne, a crucial crossroads, was a major target during the German counterattack of December 1944. What began as an overwhelming German surprise, however, ended as an Allied victory when troops dug in and successfully defended points like Bastogne.

Cut off from supplies and reinforcements and outnumbered 5-to-1, the besieged defenders of Bastogne held off German attacks for a week in the dead of winter before relief arrived.

In addition to the walk Saturday, town leaders also laid wreaths and held a parade to commemorate the troops’ sacrifice.

smith.josh@stripes.com

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