The tumult and jubilation surrounding her was a celebration of the liberation of Eindhoven on September 18, 1944, by American GIs — a day of joy and hope, when Allied forces dropped into Holland at the beginning of Operation Market-Garden. Ultimately, however, the operation would be unsuccessful, and it would be months before all Netherlanders could celebrate their liberation with certainty.
But here on September 18, 2002, the Dutch were pouring free beer and wine as fast as the American and British veterans and their friends could drink it. A swing band played ’40s classics. A bagpipe troupe strode through the throng piping and drumming at full throttle, to the crowd’s great delight. The Brits sang ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ To add to the excitement, accompanying our tour group in Eindhoven that day was the man credited with being the first Allied soldier to enter town: Edward ‘Babe’ Heffron of Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division — the Easy Company of paratroopers made famous in the book Band of Brothers.