Throughout World War II Brussels, Belgium experienced terrifying air attacks from Nazi German planes which caused frequent blackouts in the city. During one of the blackouts, Andrew A. Athens was leading his troops back to Belgium from France.
With no lights on anywhere, he knew he could not proceed until early morning.
Finding the nearest house, he knocked on the door, identifying himself as a Captain in the U.S. Army. Louise De Coster slowly opened the door, her mother instructing her to let the troops in the house. In that brief moment, somehow both Louise De Coster and Andrew Athens knew they were meant to be together. On November 12, 1945 they married at the Holy Taxiarchai Archangels Michael and Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church in Brussels.
To commemorate their 65th Wedding Anniversary, Andrew and Louise Athens, along with their children and grandchildren traveled to Brussels the week of November 6-15 to relive their courtship and show their family the sites of their first meeting as well as the war memorials in Belgium.
With Mrs. Athens as tour guide, the family visited such historical sites as the Grand Place, the most beautiful square in Brussels, which houses City Hall, the Atomium the main attraction of the 1958 World Fair, the Royal Palace, and Royal Army & Military History Museum. Day trips were taken to Waterloo, the site of Napoleon’s surrender to the Duke of Wellington and Bastogne, located in the Ardennes Forest famous for the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. The Bastogne Historical Center was filled with hundreds of amazing artifacts as well as an exceptional collection of authentic equipment and uniforms from World War II.
There was also a trip to the tomb of General George Patton at the war memorial cemetery in Luxemburg. General Patton was one of the world greatest combat generals in history and he is credited with turning the tide for the allies which forced Germany’s surrender in World War II. More than 6, 000 U.S. soldiers who died during the war in Belgium are buried at the cemetery. White crosses commemorate their sacrifice for freedom.
Another highlight from their trip was the visit to the Mardasson Memorial, a star shaped monument representing freedom that was built in 1950. The Memorial pays tribute to the gratitude of the Belgium people for the country’s liberation by the U.S. Army and allied forces. Engraved on the walls of the monument are the names of 48 U.S. States commemorating the birth places of young Americans who lost their lives to free Belgium.
On November 13th the family attended vesper services at the Holy Taxiarchai Greek Orthodox Church. His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon offered a special blessing to Mr. and Mrs. Athens on the occasion of their 65th Wedding Anniversary.
“It was an awesome feeling to be in the same church where we were married, recalls Andrew Athens. In some ways it was November 12, 1945 as we remembered our wedding day and reflected on the 65 years that have passed. It was especially memorable that our children and grandchildren were with us to share this momentous anniversary,” continued Mr. Athens.
Congratulations to Andrew and Louise Athens on the occasion of their wedding anniversary with best wishes that they will celebrate together many more years of wedded bliss.