Dec 022014
 

Christel Delahaye, President of the Association du Devoir de Memoire de Momignies – Belgique (Duty to Remember Association) has been nominated for the Belgian Commander’s Award for Public Service for her exceptional contribution to Belgian-American relations and for the planning and organization of the ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Belgium in September 1944 from four years of Nazi occupation and oppression.

She continues the legacy begun by her father, Dr. Paul Delahaye who dedicated his life to honor the Allied service men who fought and died to bring freedom to his country.  Dr. Delahaye founded the Belgo-Americaine Foundation and was responsible for numerous memorials being erected in southern Belgium around Chimay and Momignies; two in particular. One, located in the village of Monceau-Imbrechies, was dedicated to the first twelve American soldiers who lost their lives on September 2, 1944. The other,  located in Macquenoise, was dedicated to the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth that was shot down by German fighters on February 8, 1944.

Christel & Paul Delahaye in 2006

Christel & Paul Delahaye in 2006

Christel  took over as President  after the death of her father in July 2013. She accepted this mission as a duty, and as a reminder, renamed the Foundation to include the concept of “Duty of Memory.” She had a firm conviction to continue to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice; to tell their stories, to educate younger generations, and to keep alive the memory of her father. 

A mother of three young children, with a full-time job and involvement in many volunteer activities, Christel was able to rejuvenate the Association in only one year. She planned and organized the 70th Anniversary Celebrations which had an impact that far exceeded the boundaries of the small villages where the historical events took place.

She convinced various independent organizations within the region to combine their efforts and maximize their resources which resulted in six days of  commemorations; including a concert by the SHAPE Band in the castle of the Prince and Princess of Chimay, a reenactment of U.S. Army vehicles entering Belgium and an Army camp, a charity walk, band concerts, dances, and four commemorative ceremonies. Attending the ceremonies were numerous members of the Belgian military and American military (U.S. Army Garrison Benelux and the 424th Airbase Squadron); U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Denise Bauer; local municipal  and civic dignitaries, and hundreds of local citizens from the villages in the area.

During the prior year, Christel had been in contact with relatives of the Susan Ruth crew members, and twenty-five of them made the trip from the United States to participate in the ceremonies.  Christel made arrangements for all of the Susan Ruth family members to stay at the Château Ferme de Macon (Castle Farm of Macon) where she is the manager.

Christel Delahaye’s dedication and devotion is a worthy legacy to her father. Not only does her work foster Belgian-American relations, but it continues to help educate future generations in both countries. Like her father, she is a true friend of the United States.

 

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  2 Responses to “An Honor For Honoring”

  1. I became interested in the Susan Ruth after reading an article in a local newspaper. I have been in contact with Steve Snyder and will be attending one of his presentations, also have order his book. I will be in Brussels in June where I pick up ” The Bulge and World War I Tour” operated by Carlton Joyce of Normandy Tours, Inc. I have a few days before and after this tour and will try to visit the memorial. How easy is it to get to Macquenoise from Brussels?

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    D.Renner

    • Hi Dave. Macquenoise is about 2 hours south of Brussels, just below Chimay. There are several memorials in the area you should visit plus a nice little museum. I can hook you up with some locals who speak English and would be glad to take you around.

      Steve

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