The train trip from Brussels lasted two hours, with a change at Liege. On most days, Welkenraedt was a sign post you blinked past on the way to attractions in Germany: Cologne, Monschau, the only Wal-Mart for 100 miles. On this Memorial Day, it was a place to stop.
A few dozen miles to the south lay the northernmost bulge from Hitler’s Ardennes Offensive in 1944. A couple of miles to the north, in Henri-Chapelle, lie the remains of 7,992 American soldiers who never made it out of Belgium.
A couple of miles was more than my wife and I had anticipated. A young woman sat behind the ticket window. Was there, we asked her in the mangled French of two recent arrivals, a bus to the cemetery? Perhaps a taxi?
You are Americains?
Oui, oui. (“Yes” twice, in the manner of so many who speak few foreign words with confidence.)
She turned, made a phone call, hung up, told us to wait.
Presently, a man in work clothes appeared and waved us over. (Americains are an easy mark in Welkenraedt.)