Aggie war veteran memorial set to open in Bastogne, Belgium

By beth Brown beth.brown@theeagle.com | 1 comment

With the help of local and international partners, Aggie veterans are close to being memorialized at one of the key World War II battle sites.

The "Texas Aggies Go To War" exhibit is in the works to be opened in Bastogne, Belgium. The memorial will open in the Bastogne War Museum on Dec. 31, 2014, marking the 70th anniversary of World War II's Battle of the Bulge. The seven-room exhibit will include a history of Texas A&M in the war, biographies of notable Aggies who were there and include information on the present-day economic development partnership Wallonia has with Bryan-College Station.

Todd McDaniel, president and CEO of the Research Valley Partnership, said there has been an ongoing collaboration with Texas A&M and Wallonia, the French-speaking southern region of Belgium, to bring international economic development to the region. In 2006, Texas A&M University System partners began targeting Wallonia biotech industries, and now there are more than a dozen companies exploring or engaged in the Research Valley.

"I think it's exceptional that we have an opportunity for the community and university to work together on a project that will really tell the story of who we are," McDaniel said.

Linda Ravey, project coordinator for the Texas A&M System Technology Commercialization and liaison on the project, said the exhibit comes out of a long relationship with Wallonia. She said the exhibit will include the Aggies' contribution to the war efforts, but also include the present-day relationship.

Once the exhibit in Bastogne is over, Jim Singleton, a member of its task force, said the second phase will be to move it to the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial Park. He said he dreams of seeing the exhibit come back from Belgium and become a convenient extension of the World War II site at the memorial.