By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Trey Fowler
Rear Adm. Matthew A. Zirkle, chief of staff, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, delivered remarks during a Veterans Day Ceremony at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Luxembourg, Nov. 11, 2019.
The cemetery was established on Dec. 29, 1944, by the 609th Quartermaster Company of the U.S. Third Army while Allied forces were stemming the enemy's desperate Ardennes Offensive, one of the critical battles of World War II.
“As the son of a WWII Army Air Forces veteran and the grandson of a U.S. Marine, my life has been framed by the value and importance of service,” said Zirkle. “This continues to fuel my own life in the U.S. Navy and my deep respect for those veterans of all military branches and from all partner nations who put others before themselves.”
Veterans Day is an opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans.
“To be a military veteran is to be a part of an exclusive union of men and women who have volunteered to labor while others rest, to give so that others may receive, to forge the peace so that others may live in safety,” said Zirkle. “And that is why we continue to recognize and honor our veterans.”
Zirkle went on to say that without the sacrifices of the service members laid to rest at the Luxemburg American Cemetery and Memorial, the NATO alliance would not be what it is today.
“While many European immigrants have come to the United States, the two World Wars have brought America back to Europe, and our commitment to our NATO allies is as strong today as it was 75 years ago,” said Zirkle. “Ours is an enduring partnership and alliance forged in great adversity, sustained in friendship and the common pursuit of peace. And the freedom that Europe and the United States enjoy today was earned by the blood and sacrifice of those interred in these hallowed grounds. We cannot and will not forget their sacrifice.”
While the nature of war has changed dramatically and the battlefield has shifted into other domains, the courage and valor of the service members who fought in WWII are everlasting. Overall, WWII gave birth to modern-day multi-national operations and forged partnerships and bonds that we highly value and continue to benefit from to this day.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, headquartered in Naples, oversees 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.