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Eric Buchanan (not verified) - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 12:01

-----Have you ever been invited into someone's home only to realize soon after that you had actually been invited right into their hearts? That's what it felt like for me when Bob Konings and Frank Gahagan took my wife and I to visit "The Remember Museum " The M&M.s!, next to Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in a small community called Thimister-Clermont. Mathilda and her husband Marcel, M&M, started the museum around 25 years ago and have been honoring WWII veterans and their families ever since. Just before the Battle of the Bulge Marcel was a little five seven old boy when the 1st Infantry Division was quartered on his parents farm there. Marcel himself was forced to attend a school in which he was not allowed to speak French, only German, then return to his home where he was not allowed to speak German. When Hitler initiated the Battle of the Bulge the 1st ID left in a hurry leaving behind many personal belongings and consequently had no one to return to collect them. With heavy casualties during the Bulge those belongings remained at the farm. M&M started the museum with those belongings to honor those heroes. By hand Marcel made all of the mannequins in the likeness of the soldiers who once wore the uniforms they are wearing in the museum. He wanted to display all of his newspapers and magazines from 39-45, so he built a newsstand in the likeness of one in a picture he had in order to display them. He had tanker uniforms and tank relics, so he built a tank for that display. He built a V1 replica to display while playing a CD that they had obtained that contained audio of an incoming V1 rocket and on and on. During our tour it seemed that Matilda had not forgotten a single detail of the veterans, or their thousands of relics and pictures that live on in the museum.
-----One of the many great stories that Matilda shared with us that day was that of a little baby girl whose dad was an aviator and crashed his aircraft near to where the museum stands. They had collected many pieces from the crash site, as well as a picture of the pilot holding a baby girl. That baby girl grew up yearning to learn about her father. When she would ask her mother about him growing up she would be told not to think about the war, it's in the past. She stopped asking until after her mother passed away. The baby girl, now grown into an elderly lady, was then lead to this museum through her research. Now there is a picture of an elderly woman next to the same picture who now knows endearing details of the sacrifices of her father, and now she has a picture of her with him that she never knew existed. She now even has a piece of the plane.
----Thousands of veterans have been honored and immortalized in this include several GOYAs. Many have come back to visit leaving their signatures on a WWII cargo truck, Mathilda can find every individual's name if you simply ask. It's rumored that their kitchen table is the most photographed kitchen table in Belgium. Generals, Diplomats, WWII veterans and family members have sat at that table. During WWII soldiers of the 1st ID were entertained there as well. So many have enjoyed the hospitality of two national/world treasures, Mathilda and Marcel. For me the secret to happiness in life is simple:keep honor centered in it. Honoring others is the best way to do just that. My wife and I were honored to be invited in that home, as well as thousands of others. M&M must be one of the happiest couples on earth, they sure seemed like it to me. I will never forget that visit. Much thanks to Bob Konings and Frank Gahagan!

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