On December 16, the American club of Brussels held a gala to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Bulge. The title of the event, “Nuts!”, was inspired by a one-liner from U.S. Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe who had once said “Nuts!” when asked to turn back and abandon the Belgian town of Bastogne. The battle was a pivotal turning point in the war and led to the Allies’ victory.
This was the first time that the club invited a German ambassador to attend an event to celebrate the ending of a war in which Germany was a former foe. German ambassador to Belgium, Dr. Eckard Cuntz, spoke of how honored he was to be invited, the darkness of the war era, and his hope for a united future. At one point, when he was speaking about the Marshall Plan, he said one line with a sense of gravitas that really resonated with the rest of the predominantly Belgian/American audience, several of whom had fought in the armed forces: “It demonstrated what the United States did for Europe– we were not let down.” Overall, we left the night feeling inspired. Though these are doubtless different times, it’s a reminder that we have much to live up to.
The Fulbrighters in attendance — Marco and I with some of the musicians, and Nathan looking quite sharp:
Mandatory culinary picture of the main course, per our in-house chef & ETA, Nathan:
With fellow event participants (please excuse the poor picture quality on my phone!)
At the end, Nathan took a very poignant symbolic picture of the German and U.S. ambassador to Belgium (Ms. Denise Bauer) dancing to the live band’s rendition of “What a Wonderful World.” As writer (& lucky for us, also our tour guide!) Derek Blyth said to us the first day we arrived in Brussels’ Grand Place for the orientation, there is a historically rare length of peace here in Europe; the beauty of the gala highlights how far we have come and a reminder of the price paid for all of us to be able to be present together.
Thanks so much to Ms. Esther Miller & Mr. Etienne Kervyn for your generous donations for the tickets to Nathan and myself! Wish we could’ve gotten the chance to meet you and thank you in person. We had a fantastic time!
– Lin Shi