What is the day AFTER Christmas like for you? A day to take unwanted presents back to the store? A day to clean up or go back to work or just a day to lazily putz around the house? It was none of that on December 26…..1944 for the US Army around Bastogne Belgium.
The famous Battle of the Bulge was been raging in the deep snows of Belgium for the past ten days. A force of 250,000 Germans surprise attacked a weak American sector and blasted a hole 100 miles wide and 60 miles deep. A small force of US Army troops were surrounded in the key town of Bastogne.
On December 23rd the German commander, Fritz Bayerlein, ordered the Americans to surrender. Of course, you know how the American general, General Tony McAuliffe, answered. “Nuts!” was his famous reply. He was prepared to fight to the death against the Nazis.
The Germans launched attacks for the next several days, but could not penetrate the American defenses. Fortunately, General Patton’s tanks and infantry were on the way to lift the seige of Bsstogne! They marched, and drove, and slid, and fought over 100 miles of snow and ice to get to Bastogne.
Finally, on December 26 they made it! They punched their way through Nazi lines to rescue the trapped American troops! It was the turning point in the battle, and the beginning of the end of Hitler’s empire.
The next time you take a present back on December 26, or have time to play with your new toy the day after Christmas…. remember that a major reason why you have that freedom is because of US troops who were fighting and liberating in Belgium on that day in 1944.