This weekend, Columbia is host to the 2014 national convention of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, and the events include a church service, autograph-signing event and a wreath-laying ceremony.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the battle, which lasted from Dec. 16, 1944, until Jan. 25, 1945, in the Ardennes Mountains of Belgium, France and Luxembourg. Officially known as the Ardennes-Alsace campaign, the late World War II battle was called the Battle of the Bulge for the initial German intrusion into the Allies’ line of advance. More than 19,000 troops were killed in the Battle of the Bulge, making it the single bloodiest battle for American forces in World War II.
The convention begins with a church service Sunday morning at Main Street United Methodist Church in downtown Columbia. A brass quartet from Fort Jackson will play patriotic music beginning at 10:30 a.m. The American Legion and Post 6 Freedom Riders will line the walkway with flags to welcome the Battle of the Bulge veterans, a group expected to number around 40. At the 11 a.m. service, Gen. Ray Bailey, Deputy Chief of Chaplains for the U.S. Army, will deliver the sermon. The church service is open to the public.
Sunday afternoon, the veterans will be in the lobby of the State Museum from 2-5 p.m. to sign autographs and pose for photos. Each visitor will be limited to three items for autographing. Posters and books will be available for a donation, as well.
Monday, the group of veterans will visit Fort Jackson for a wreath-laying ceremony at 10 a.m. before the conference concludes on Wednesday morning.