By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan Riley
Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Italy, commemorated Armistice Day during a commemoration held at Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial in Waregem, Belgium, Nov. 11, 2018.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the armistice signed by allies of WWI and Germany for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front. The armistice took effect at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
“We find ourselves today on a hallowed battlefield of the Ypres-Lys offensive,” said Foggo. “The majority of the 368 headstones are for men who died during the last days of the war. The secluded recesses of the cemetery represent the four American divisions who fought in Belgium. More than 81,000 U.S. service members died in Europe, including 1,043 on Belgian soil.”
The armistice expired after 36 days and the following year a formal peace agreement, the Treaty of Versailles, was signed.
“There was silence after 52 months of war,” said Foggo “There was silence after millions of deaths. There was the silence of peace.”
Foggo continued his speech, reflecting on why WWI has a significant impact on his life.
“I often reflect on this war in particular due to my family connection to the continent,” he said. “Although I stand before you today as a United States Navy Admiral, my roots are firmly entrenched in Europe as my Grandfathers were entrenched here, on the Western Front, during the Great War as members of Canadian Expeditionary Force.”
With shared values, experiences and vision, the partnerships forged in World War I continue to ensure U.S. forces, alongside European allies and partners, remain committed to the continued cooperative security.
“We are honored to call such men and women – past and present – Americans,” said Foggo. “Americans who joined their allied brothers and sisters to demonstrate unequaled resolve to combat tyranny, and in so doing, inspired the formidable NATO Alliance we maintain today. We are inspired by their service and humbled by their sacrifice.”
Approximately 100 American and Belgium boy and girl scouts participated in the ceremony by reading the Presidential Proclamation of Veterans Day 2018, reciting the poem “In Flanders Field,” and laying wreaths in honor of the fallen service members laid to rest at Flanders Field.
“November 11, Armistice Day, reminds us all of the sacrifices that so many young men and women made 100 years ago in order to ensure freedom and prosperity for generations to come.”
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6thFleet, headquartered in Naples, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.