National Veterans Day CeremonyThe Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.
This year for Veterans Day, Matt and I decided to take advantage of being in Germany and check out some history. We found a WWII Memorial in Stuttgart called Birkenkopf. This particualr memorial is in part, a Schuttberg (debris mountain); an artificial hill built from the ruins and rubble from the WWII bombings.
These types of mountains are more specifically termed "trümmerberg" (rubble mountain) and are known colloquially by various namesakes such as Mont Klamott (Mount Rag), Monte Scherbelino (Mount Shard), and Scherbelberg (Shard Mountain). Most major cities in Germany have at least one Schuttberg.
At an altitude of 511m (1,676 feet) above sea level, the Birkenkopf Memorial reaches 40m (131 feet) and lies in the Stuttgart-West city region, only about a 20 minute drive from our house. The weather was perfect for a hike up this massive trail.
I couldn't decide how to feel as we began our ascent to the top; the trail was beautiful and the view of the city was magnificent.
I tried to think about the reason this memorial was built in the first place; there had been a war, cities were destroyed, thousands of lives were lost, and we were climbing our way to the top of a hill which was created out of the rubble left after the war.
We could see that there was a large cross on top of the hill once we hit the half way point. It gave me a sense of peace, a calm feeling came over my mind and I knew this place was not meant to mourn, but to remember. To remember the goodness still left in mankind, and the grace of God no matter how often we lose faith. I couldn't wait to reach the top.
|Anyone else see an arrow pointing to the heavens?|
Between 1953 and 1957, 15 million cubic metres of rubble from 53 bombing missions during World War II were built on top of the hill, which resulted in an increase in height of around 40 metres. At the summit there are many recognizable facades from the ruined buildings.
The locals colloquially call the Birkenkopf "Monte Scherbelino", which roughly translates as "Mount Shards" but in childlike language. One of the pieces of rubble has a plaque attached to it, which says: Dieser Berg nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg aufgetürmt aus den Trümmern der Stadt steht den Opfern zum Gedächtnis den Lebenden zur Mahnung. This translates roughly as: This mountain was built after the Second World War from the rubble of the town to stand as a memorial of the dead and a warning to the living.
From the summit the whole city centre can be seen, and on a clear day the view extends to the Swabian Alb, to the Black Forest, and the lowlands of Württemberg. On the summit there is a steel cross, which in 2003 replaced the original 1953 wooden cross. In the summer, early morning services are sometimes held here.
This was an amazing adventure; one we found only minutes from home. I am so thankful for the sacrifices made by our service members of the past and I will never forget them. They paved the way for the freedoms we as Americans enjoy today and those same freedoms are being defended even as you're reading this Blog post. Always keep our military and their loved ones in your prayers, I know I do. God Bless America!
Das ist Leben!