That those respects are paid is more important than the number gathered to do so.
At least that’s what Jacksonville resident Klaus Duncan thinks. He’s the man responsible for organizing the annual memorial ceremony for the 26 German and three Italian soldiers who died as prisoners of war in Calhoun County.
“It is good to remember them each year,” said Duncan, also a member of the Fort McClellan’s POW Society.
For years, the society has tended the cemetery, keeping the grounds clean and escorting the occasional foreigner to the McClellan site for a visit at an ancestor’s grave.
Duncan said the remembrance ceremony is a formal recognition of an often-overlooked part of Calhoun County’s history: the 3,000 Germans and Italians who were held as POWs at Fort McClellan during and after World War II. Some of those soldiers are buried at the McClellan cemetery. Others at rest here came from POW camps across the state. This year’s ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 13.
High-ranking German and Italian officials plan to be present for the event, as they have been in the past.
German Consul Alfred Schlicht and Lt. Col. Christian Uhlig will attend in memory of their countrymen buried in the cemetery; Col. Antonio Lotito will represent the Italians.
“It will be quite the ceremony,” Duncan said.
Star staff writer Cameron Steele: 256-235-3562.