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Luxembourg Cemetery Visitors Express Grief over Terror Attacks - 2001-12-30


There has been a massive outpouring of grief in Europe following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Europeans have experienced centuries of war, and their feelings for Americans killed in the suicide airline attacks run deep. At an American military cemetery in Luxembourg, the response has been overpowering.

The playing of Taps at the American military cemetery in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where more than 5,000 Americans who fought in World War II - including the legendary General George Patton - are buried.

Visitors have poured into the site following September 11 to express sorrow and solidarity with America. They put down their feelings in a book of condolences.

One said, "Words cannot express the sadness I feel regarding this unbelievable tragedy. The world changed and will never be the same."

Another wrote, "Our deepest condolences for the American people. If they feel pain, we feel the same pain. We will never forget this."

Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Leland Atkinson has been superintendent of the cemetery for four years. He says he has never seen anything like it. Just after September 11, the chapel, made of white Valor stone from France, was overflowing with flowers. "There were so many flowers in there," he said, "we couldn't get in there."

The book of condolences was packed with messages of grief and sorrow. Normally, a single book does not even get filled. But "he Saturday and Sunday following the 11 of September, we had so many people here wanting to purvey their condolences that they were lined up coming out of the office, through the entrance of the cemetery, out towards the parking lot," he said. "And it started even prior to that weekend with several ambassadors. The first one in the door was the British ambassador, then came the Russian ambassador, then the French ambassador, then the Chinese ambassador."

The people spoke from their heart in the condolences book. They expressed their shock over the massive loss of life in the attacks, vowed to stand alongside America, and recalled the World War II.

One wrote, "Such a senseless act and waste of lives. My heart weeps for you." Another said, "Dear Americans, you were with us in the last war. We won't forget what you did for us. Now we share these bitter moments."

But there were also some reflections on the broader context of events. "September 11th can go down in history with a very different meaning," wrote one visitor. "The day the world received a wake-up call indicating the time has come to deal, more seriously, with the struggles of all nations and individuals."

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