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ArlingtonSister City group aims to resume Aachen excursions

Sister City group aims to resume Aachen excursions

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It’s a relationship that, like so many others, has been tested during the COVID era, but the Arlington Sister City Association is aiming to restart exchange programs with the county’s Sister City of Aachen, Germany, in the near future.

“Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks,” the organization said in a recent newsletter, noting that priority to participate in exchange programs will be given to current Sister City Association members, ranked by years of membership.

Arlington and Aachen became Sister City partners in 1990s; it was the county’s second such relationship, after Coyoacan, Mexico.

While Arlington and the slightly larger Aachen are relatively close in population – Aachen has about 250,000 residents, making it Germany’s 28th largest city – there are as many differences as similarities.

(One biggie: While Arlington has a County Board of five members, Aachen has a City Council of 58. We’ll let you decide which one you’d rather live under.)

The German city’s recorded history dates back to Roman times, and in 800 A.D. Aachen became something of a world power when Charlemagne was crowned king of the Franks in Aachen Cathedral, an acknowledgment that he ruled much of central Europe.

That crown ultimately lasted 1,000 years, as Charlemagne’s successors became overlords of what became known as the Holy Roman Empire. (It was a title made light of, late in its history, by the philosopher Voltaire, noting that it was “neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire,” rather one that held nominal suzerainty over many smaller jurisdictions through Europe’s mid-section.)

As Germany coalesced into a nation-state in the mid-1800s, Aachen became its westernmost outpost, close to both the Netherlands and Belgium.
In October 1944, Aachen became the first German jurisdiction to fall to Allied troops advancing into Germany, a bloody battle that left much of the city – one which most residents had fled – in tatters. One survivor was the millennium-old cathedral.

Aachen in 1967 became a Sister City to the French city of Reims, which also now is a Sister City to Arlington, as well. The German city also has “twin” relationships with communities in China, England, Spain, Turkey, South Africa, China and (currently suspended) Russia.

In addition to adult partnerships, the Arlington-Aachen relationships pre-COVID included annual exchanges between youth in elementary and middle schools, which also are likely to be resumed once a public-health all-clear has been sounded.

In addition to Aachen, Reims and Coyoacan, Arlington has Sister City relationships with Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, and San Miguel, El Salvador.

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