FORT GORDON, Ga. (WJBF) – Fort Gordon leaders hosted their annual German-Italian Memorial, Wreath Laying Ceremony. It signified the union between these three countries, which were once enemies.
“A memorial day, Germans around the world commemorate victims of war,” said Lt. Col. Sascha Blankenburg, a Liason Officer of the German Armed Forces.
Sunday afternoon, Fort Gordon leaders hosted their annual German-Italian Memorial Day. A day to remember those who died during the second world war.
“We remember not only the fallen soldiers of all the wars, but we also remember all the people that died from tyranny and oppression,” said Lt. Col. Blankenburg.
The day has been slated in Germany as Volkstrauer Tag, which means the People’s Day of Mourning.
Lt. Col Blankenberg says the holiday has no affiliation with Veteran’s Day and is not the same kind of commemoration.
“You take these soldiers and young men that died here, and take their legacy and think about it and why did they have to die and then move on with that, and say how can we, what can we do better in the future. We can’t change the past, but we can look into the future, and say what can we do differently, what do we have to do differently.”
The ceremony was held in front of the two cemeteries. Buried in one, are the 21 German soldiers who died as prisoners of the war. In the other cemetery, just one Italian soldier, who died under those same circumstances.
“These gentlemen were brought here on boats and they mostly were put into work camps here, they worked in the logging industry, most of them, and whether through sickness or through logging accidents, they perished in the camps,” said Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Anne Boweman.
One of the things these men had in common was, they all died on foreign country soil. All of them ranging from ages 18 to 24.
“A lot of historical documents tell us what these gentlemen did for trades. They were farmers, there was a physician, locksmiths, just normal everyday people that joined their country’s army during World War 2.”
The commemoration featured words from German, Italian, and American military leaders all stating why it’s important to keep this tradition going.
“We need this, because if we start to forget about it, then not so nice things might happen again and I certainly don’t want that to happen again,” said Lt. Col. Blankenburg.