Division Memorials - Alsting

Alsting-Zingzing, France




on MAY 8, 1995

alsting.jpg (40750 bytes)Following is the text of the two speeches made by Alsting Mayor Woring on May 8, 1995 in connection with the dedication of the Memorial in Alsting, France:

Memorial Speech:

Mr. Sub-Perfect. Mr. Senator. Mr. Deputy, Messrs. Regional Councilors, Mr. General Councilor, Mr. President of the District of Forbach, District Mayors;

Dear friends, the veterans of the 70th American Division, ladies, gentlemen and guests;

As the first US tanks arriving from Grosbliederstroff entered Alsting via Zinzing on this road, the inhabitants sheltered in their basement were torn between fear and hope. Fear, fear of the battles which continually endangered the civilian population, but also hope especially hope in seeing the period of occupation come to an end.

In observing the events taking place in eastern Europe, one may ask the question: "Does liberty bring happiness?" There, it is often said that they were possibly never happier as under repression. The history of Lorraine, of our region, provides a contradictory answer. Here we grew accustomed to suffering and deprivation, tossed back and forth as we were, through the centuries, from one country to another, often by men who were temporarily placed in the spotlight by people feigning to be impressed. But here we have been instilled with the notion that the only beacon of humanity which can enlighten nations is that which guides us to liberty.

Although current events confirm that the tragedies of others are appallingly trivialized because we remain indifferent to numerous catastrophes and injustices as long as it is others that are being affected; we must never lose hope and resign.

Today we realize that those who liberated us coming from that continent which we call the new world, didn't remain indifferent to our misfortunes. Fifty years ago the Americans came and helped us become free men, free to think, to speak, to choose, in other words to exist. Region by region, village after village the allies recaptured for us the right to live freely.

Some of the US veterans which brought this hope to us in Alsting on February 20th, 1945 are here with us today, living testaments to our refound honor. Along with the emotions they experience in returning to the place of their battles is the gratitude of a village for its liberators.

Let us reflect on those who died here to liberate Alsting and on this anniversary of May 8th, 1945, reflect on all those victims - civil and military - who paid for human intolerance with their lives.

The elders remember and will never forget!

So that future generations may perpetuate the memory, so that the gratitude which is owed you, dear US veterans, never falls into the oblivion of time, we are proud today to inaugurate a monument in commemoration of the 70th American Division in this small square which henceforth shall be called "Liberation Square".

In the name of all the citizens of Alsting, I would like to thank you for having been here in 1945 and thank you for being our friends.

Long live the United States of America!

Long live France!

Long live Alsting!

Speech at the Reception:

Having concluded the official ceremonies, please permit me, ladies, gentlemen and guests, to welcome you to our village hall where the inhabitants of Alsting would like to spend some time in the company of the veterans of the 70th US division and their families.

The pleasure of physically seeing those who came to liberate us 50 years ago is compounded by the desire to directly express our gratitude.

Dear veterans, we would like to share a few moments of friendship with you in order that we may better know you and engrave you in our memories.

Imagine if Christopher Columbus had never made a discovery; if Kennedy would possibly still be alive - but us - where would we be today? What would have become of us?

Thanks to God - we are grateful that you did exist and are delighted that you could join us today. I would also like to thank all those who enthusiastically contributed to the success of this day. A special thanks to Mr. Gilbert Starck, president of the local Veterans Association who along with his team initiated the organization of festivities for this May 8th, 1995 in Alsting.

I would also like to extend special thanks to you ladies and gentlemen in elected office who wished to share a few minutes of your precious time to display the importance you place on the necessity of continual remembrance, so that these events so not fall into oblivion.

Do not forget for example that in 1945 these Americans, barely 20 years old, left their families, wives and children to travel thousands of kilometers away from home to defend the values of the free world, while others here yielded, maybe too readily, to fear, sacrificing their values on the alter of tyranny.

But don't relinquish today to the ease of criticism. Let us rejoice that we are together in a free world, where, as we experienced on Sunday, democracy seems permanently anchored within its institutions.

I now invite you to take up your glass in friendship, expressing our wishes for reconciliation among all people on earth.

An excellent evening to one and to all!

Translated by Marie Lexa; typed by Dale Bowlin

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