The ministry of Defence held a ceremony to honour Belgian soldiers who were killed in combat after 1945, at the Unknown Soldier monument in Brussels, on Tuesday morning between 11:00am and 12:00am. A few people gathered around Place du Congres, but the tribute was mostly an official one. Over 80 marching servicemen greeted the arrival of a representative of the king, of Herve Jamar, federal minister for the Budget, of General Gerard Van Caelenberge, chief of the Defence staff, of Jozef Ostyn, vice-governor of the administrative region of Brussels-Capital, of Françoise Schepmans, vice –president of the Chamber of deputies, of Senator Jean-Paul Wahl, and of Geoffroy Coomans de Brachene, Brussels alderman. After official guests and families laid wreaths, the representative of the king rekindled the flame of the Unknown Soldier and signed the official Golden Book. The national anthem marked the end of the ceremony.
252 Belgian servicemen have lost their lives in peace-keeping operations since 1945, in particular in Korea, the Balkans, Rwanda and also during the independence of the Congo. The last soldier to fall victim was lieutenant-colonel Ronny Piens, killed in a bomb attack in Mali during the night between March 6th and 7th.
In 2014, 2,700 Belgian soldiers were sent abroad under the banners of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), the United Nations, and the EU. The date for “Veterans Day” was chosen by the government in 1998 to commemorate 10 paratroopers killed in Kigali on April 7th, 1994.
Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)