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What is known as the "greatest battle ever fought by the United States Army"?

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The Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Battle of the Ardennes was called "the greatest American battle of the war" by Sir Winston Churchill when he was the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945. The Battle of the Bulge in the forested Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg was the last major German counteroffensive in World War II on the Western Front. Despite his generals who were opposed to the plan, Adolf Hitler nonetheless launched his counteroffensive plan on 16 December 1944 by some 30 German divisions against Allied lines with the intent "of regaining the initiative in the west and compelling the Allies to settle for a negotiated peace." The Fuhrer's unsuccessful attempt resulted in heavy casualties on both sides – 80,000 to 100,000 Germans lost, some 75,000 American casualties and nearly 21,000 Allied soldiers killed.

According to the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge (VBOB) Memorial Committee, their Chapters have been involved over the years in erecting memorials and monuments across the U.S. to commemorate this battle. Included among the 29 monuments listed for people to visit is a statue erected by the VBOB Central Florida Chapter No. 18 at Lake Eola Park in Orlando, Florida "DEDICATED TO THE GALLANT MEN AND WOMEN WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE, WORLD WAR II, 16 DECEMBER 1944 THRU 25 JANUARY 1945 IN BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG, THE GREATEST BATTLE EVER FOUGHT BY THE UNITED STATES ARMY." Created by Orlando sculptor Chris Scala, it was dedicated on the 55th anniversary of the battle, 16 December 1999 in the presence of 1,200 people, including many Battle of the Bulge veterans. Brigadier General William E. Carlson (retired) was the keynote speaker and participants included Harry J. Meisel (6 December 1922 – 25 July 2010) – retired swim coach, high school teacher and Chairman of the VBOB Memorial Committee – and his wife Jeanette Meisel, Mayor Glenda Hood, County Chairman Mel Martinez, Medal of Honor recipient (for actions during the Battle of the Bulge) U.S. Army Master Sergeant James "Jim" Hendrix (20 August 1925 – 14 November 2002), Captain Roland Serres representing Belgium, and Colonel John Parker (AAF Retired) representing Luxembourg.

As wanted by the VBOB Memorial Committee, the Orlando sculpture was modeled after the G.I. monument erected in 1983 in Clervaux, Luxembourg. As shown in the photograph, it features a six-foot bronze statue of an American G.I. atop a granite pedestal, with the VBOB logo mounted on a bronze plaque which bears the same wording as the VBOB memorial in Arlington Cemetery. Around the base of the statue are the emblems of the infantry and armoured divisions that took part in the battle. The monument sits upon a large white star within a circle. The flags of the United States of America, Belgium, and Luxembourg fly in a semi-circle behind the statue. The Orlando monument is "believed to be only the second monument in the world to honor the GI's who fought in the Battle of the Bulge."

On this day, 16 December 2019, we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and Luxembourg and mark 20 years since the unveiling of a statute in Orlando, Florida to remember this "ever famous American victory, and honor all World War II veterans."

André M. Levesque

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