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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

A Bastogne Historic Walk after-action report:

“Today, our duty is to remember!” So said Ed Lapotsky, one of the co-coordinators of the event, as he ended his pre-walk briefing and started out to lead this year’s trek through history. As we hiked, the many veterans, re-enactors, displays and demonstrations that were an integral part of this historical event helped us remember those who had fought there. There were fighting positions in the woods, military vehicles of every type — including a tank — and even an artillery piece. The entire small village of Hemroulle was fortified as it might have been in December 1944.

We feel the highlight of the walk was the parachute jump by the members of the Liberty Jump Team. The wind at the drop zone seemed especially biting and cold, but it was well worth enduring to see these dedicated re-enactors jump from a propeller-driven C-47 and float to earth in their WWII-style parachutes and uniforms.

Just before the jump we spoke with Herb Suerth and Frank Soboleski, veterans of the fighting 63 years ago. When one listens to these men speak, the cold and the wind go unnoticed. We were also able to visit briefly with Maurice Spirandeau, a veteran of Patton’s Third Army, and the driving force behind this historical walk over the past 30 years.

American participation in the walk was outstanding. Busloads of military units and individuals came from across Europe. Entire families, many with their dogs, faced the cold weather to pay respect to those who fought, froze, bled and died in the Battle of the Bulge.

Military members from several countries participated as well. There were numerous Belgian and Dutch soldiers on the trail, as well as a contingent from the Royal Dutch Marscheuse. We even saw two members of the Surrey, England, police force along the route. Perhaps they were there to keep an eye on the many UK re-enactors. There were a good number of German soldiers both walking the route and serving as re-enactors, reminding us that men on both sides suffered during the battle.

We send special thanks to all of the re-enactors who made this walk more realistic. There was no snow this year, but it was cold enough to lend a touch of realism and to make their time in the forests more than a little uncomfortable. Year after year, these young men and women come from all over Europe, having spent small fortunes for their authentic uniforms, weapons and vehicles, in an effort to honor those who liberated Europe.

We look forward to attending again next year so that we can again remember and honor those brave men.

Our thanks also to Serge and Diane Duplain, who suggested we add the Vianden, Luxembourg, Christmas market to the weekend itinerary. Sunday morning we left Bastogne for Vianden. After walking the short route and getting our IVV credit, we headed to the castle and Christmas market. We enjoyed the Nativity scene with the live animals and the many stalls with hand-made articles and goodies for sale. We fought off the chill with soup, bratwurst and Glühwein from the castle’s Taverne.

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It’s time to start thinking about your Volksmarch goals for 2008. We know of one person who set his goal at 400 walks and 6,000 kilometers for 2007! We were not surprised to hear that he reached his goal, and, for that kind of dedication and determination, we salute him!

That target is probably beyond reach for most, so keep your goal at a level that is comfortable for you. If you have never done a Volksmarch, perhaps you should vow to do at least one walk in 2008. That will get the ball rolling, and next thing you know you’ll love the sport. If you have done a few walks in 2007, count the number you have completed and round it off to the next highest multiple of 10 and make that your goal for 2008. You might also add the total number of kilometers you walked in 2007 and round that up to the next multiple of 100.

If you keep in mind the benefits of Volksmarching, it will keep you focused: It’s a source of good exercise; it doesn’t cost much; you can walk as far and as fast as you want on any given day; it allows you to experience the beauty and the diverse cultures of Europe; and it’s a sport that you can enjoy around the world.

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This Friday is one of our favorite walks. It is the annual Oliebollentocht in Simpelveld, Netherlands. Oliebollen are a seasonal Dutch pastry which, when eaten, will bring you good luck in the new year. These tangerine- sized balls of fried dough can be plain or with raisins. They are served warm with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. This walk will have oliebollen and Glühwein at the start and controls.

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We received a note from Lew Harrison saying that the Colmar, France, walk back on Dec. 1 was great — easy to find and well marked. He recommends we put it on our calendars for next year. It’s an evening illumination walk, so we are sure it was beautiful.

We also received an e-mail from Maureen McHugh Castro telling us about the Krippenwanderung at Ebernhahn/Westerwald on Dec. 9. She said it took walkers past about 30 Nativity scenes set up throughout the village. There were also numerous mini- Christmas markets. Topping things off was a brass band playing Christmas music. This sounds like another walk to look for next year.

You can find a walk similar to this in Gemmenich, Belgium, this Saturday. The Marche Des Crèches will take you past about 20 homes that have Nativity scenes in their front yards.

Großenlüder bei Fulda, Germany, also offers a Volksmarch with a Krippenweg on Sunday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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• The B-medal prize at Wiesbaden-Delkenheim, Germany, is from the club’s cup and plate series. They have reduced the price for these limited souvenirs to 3 euros. The easiest way to reach the start hall is to take the Wi-Delkenheim/Wallau exit off A66 and head toward Wiesbaden-Delkenheim (opposite direction from Wallau).

• The folks in Wolferstadt, Germany, are offering B-medals from past years’ bird-of-the- year plates. The 5K and 11K start times on Sunday and Monday are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you’re interested in attending Sunday’s torch walk, be there between 5 and 7 p.m. Wrap up Sunday’s walks by 9 p.m.; finish on Monday by 4 p.m.

• A snowman hanging on a rope is the prize at Ochsenhausen, Germany. Start the 5K and 10K Saturday and Sunday between 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nordic walkers are invited to attend all walks. You can catch the performance of the Original Uhlberg Duo on Sunday at 10 a.m. in the start hall There will also be entertainment on Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m.

The Young-Walkers’-Tour 6K event is only on Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

• Notes from Clark Soeldner, our Italian walking connection:

• Cittadella, Italy, is a walled city, so expect some great photo opportunities if the weather cooperates. The tourist office in the north gate is open until 12:30 and you can get a city guide in English.

• The Avesa, Italy, walk takes you through hills with great panoramas, especially just past the midpoint restoro. There is no set cost; donations are welcome.

E-mail Volksmarch schedule information to two.walkers@yahoo.com. Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703-0278.

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