L-R: Milly Chirayath; Ambassador Nicole Bintner-Bakshian; Theo Sotoodehnia, Deputy Chief of Mission; Gilles Bauer; Credit: Embassy of Luxembourg in Washington

On Tuesday 28 June 2022, the Ambassador of Luxembourg to the United States (US), Nicole Bintner-Bakshian, hosted a Luxembourg National Day celebration at the Luxembourg Embassy in Washington DC.

According to the Embassy website, the event was "an occasion to meet the Ambassador of Luxembourg to the United States, H.E. Nicole Bintner-Bakshian and her team, to have a fun and good time with a quiz on Luxembourg, and to savo[u]r traditional delicacies and fine wine from the Grand Duchy. Villmoos merci to those who came to meet us and celebrate with us!"

Ambassador Bintner-Bakshian's official web page informs the visitors about the historical connection between Luxembourg and US: "The United States and Luxembourg have long enjoyed a solid relationship. Ties go back almost 200 years with an important emigration out of Luxembourg. The liberation of Luxembourg by American troops will never be forgotten, for the country would not be what it is today. A vibrant and varied economic and trade relationship has developed since. Cultural and student exchanges bind our people together. It is a privilege for me to represent Luxembourg in the United States and I look forward to reaching out to the Luxembourg American community and all our friends in America to further strengthen the bonds between two nations".

According to C Naseer Ahmad, the warm welcome to the guests by Ambassador Bintner-Bakshian and her team conveyed the spirit of friendship expressed on the official website. Together with her team, she engaged the audience in a quiz game designed to tell the story of Luxembourg.

Keeping with past traditions, the guests also included those who had family or business connections with Luxembourg. Among them was a distinguished retired military officer Michael Pocalyko with a memorable connection to Luxembourg, which he shared with his fellow guests: "My paternal uncle Michael Pocalyko (1917-2007), the first of my family to bear the same name as I do, was a US Army World War II veteran of Headquarters Company, 358th Battalion, 90th Infantry Division. He participated in the Division’s attack through the dense Foret de Mont Castre – the famous assault on the "Mahlman Line" on 10-12 July 1944 – and then the liberation of Luxembourg, entering the capital city on 10 September 1944. At the Battle of the Bulge, my uncle experienced what he once described to me as his most emotional moment of the war. In the shell of a bombed-out church, he met up with his younger brother Peter Pocalyko (1920-1997), then a sergeant in the 280th Engineer Combat Battalion, XVI Corps Infantry, 9th Army. Until that moment of reunion in battle, neither brother knew that the other was still alive and had survived the Bulge. He fought in six World War II campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, the Ardennes, the Rhineland and Central Europe".

He continued: "I am myself a veteran of Beirut, Lebanon in 1983, where I served as a US Navy pilot in the Multi-National Force and was present at the moment of the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing on 23 October 1983. So I am very emotionally attached to my Brother and Sister veterans – US and allies".

Michael Pocalyko concluded: "The American Military Cemetery in the Hamm Quarter is mostly famous for being the burial site of General George S Patton Jr, and it’s a small cemetery when compared to, for example, our Americans buried in Normandy. But there are a significant number of the fallen buried there who were lost in the September 1944 liberation of Luxembourg, in which my uncle fought. These events were always foremost in mindshare when I was working in Luxembourg and visiting frequently, and I would go to the cemetery specifically to visit the men from my uncle’s division and battalion. The way that the cemetery is laid out, walking through the rows is very much like the labyrinth experience – spiritual and settling, and fitting".