Annual Bastogne memorial walk set for December 17
The 28th memorial walk commemorating the Battle of the Bulge, the largest land battle in U.S. Army history, is scheduled for Dec. 17 in Bastogne, Belgium.
For 2005, organizers are expecting slightly fewer than last year’s 3,000 turnout for the 60th anniversary, said Tom Larscheid, a World War II veteran and co-organizer of the memorial walk.
Last year, “we were overwhelmed,” he said.
With some Germany-based U.S. units deployed, organizers didn’t expect the response, he said: “We ran out of (walk) certificates and everything else. With deployments, we didn’t expect that many.”
This year, there have been between 75 and 100 inquiries, Larscheid said. He expects about 2,500 people to make a circle around the eastern defensive lines held in 1944 by “the Battered Bastards of Bastogne” — paratroops from the 101st Airborne Division’s famous 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Walkers may choose 6-, 14- or 20-kilometer distances. The walk will begin at 8 a.m. at a new location, the Sports Center at Port de Treve. It is just outside the town, and it has ample parking for those arriving early, Larscheid said.
There is a mandatory four-euro charge for walker’s insurance. The fee includes a certificate from the city of Bastogne and a small souvenir. Pre-registration and payment by Dec. 5 is strongly recommended, and refunds cannot be given, according to a news release from organizers.
The walk finishes in time for three wreath-laying ceremonies in the center of Bastogne. The public is invited to participate in a memorial parade, scheduled to begin about 2:45 p.m. The traditional nut-throwing from the town hall balcony is immediately afterward, a ceremony inspired by Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s reply of “Nuts” to demands that his men, surrounded by German forces, surrender.
Americans in Germany are asked to register for the walk through Ed Lapotsky at [BOLDFACE]ed.germa firstname.lastname@example.org[/BOLDFACE], by fax at (+49) (0)6507-80-2617 or by telephone at (+49) (0)6507-8292. Americans in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg are asked to register through Larscheid at [BOLDFACE]email@example.com[/BOLDFACE] or by telephone at (+32) (0)2-687-6158.
Walkers can also register on the day of the walk between 7 and 9 a.m. at the starting point.
Limited billeting is available for active-duty military only.