During World War II, many American soldiers spent the holiday season of 1945 fighting in the Ardennes Mountains region of Wallonia in Belgium, France and Luxembourg, a long way from home and their loved ones. The historic battle became known as the Battle of the Bulge.
On Saturday, Beauvoir in Biloxi commemorated World War II veterans and hosted a re-enactment of the famous battle in their honor. The Battle of the Bulge took place from Dec. 16, 1944, to Jan. 25, 1945.
"It was the last German offensive in the western part of World War II. The Germans launched this attack in the worst winter they'd had there in 40 years, around Christmas," said Richard V. Forte, chairman of combined boards of Beauvoir.
"The idea that Hitler had was to split the British forces from the Americans and capture the Port of Antwerp, the only port which could supply the Allied Army. Our troops rallied and drove them back. But it was the biggest battle that Americans faced in World War II."
Charles L. Sullivan, a former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College history instructor and author of "Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College: A History 1911-2000," discovered one teacher and 32 students from MGCCC died in World War II.
Among the veterans honored was Mississippian and MGCCC Perkinston student Woodrow Wilson Reeves, who was killed in battle.
After his death, he was given the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest award for valor. Other veterans honored posthumously included Capt. Philip W. Shaw, Capt. R.W. McKinley, Cpl. Knox White and Brig. Gen. Doyle O. Hickney.
Former Pfc. Harry Homer Bell Jr. was present to accept the honor. The day included a battle re-enactment in the morning and afternoon, weapons demonstrations, living history demonstrations and a military swap meet.
"Hopefully, this will be the first event of an annual event. Every year, it'll get more refined, and we'll get more people as we get the word out," said Adam Williams, World War II event coordinator.
Though Beauvoir is primarily associated with the Civil War, celebrations and reenactments of other historic battles could be in store on the grounds.
"A Vietnam living history day is in the works," Fore said. Fore said events such as Saturday's re-enactment demonstrate Beauvoir's support for the U.S. military. "It's a good way to learn the true history of what happened, especially for the younger generation," he said.