D-Day: Omaha Beach and Normandy also farther below
US soldiers salute at the Colleville-sur-Mer military cemetery , Omaha Beach (resting place of two of President Theodore Roosevelt's sons)
American military cemeteries in Europe, administered by the American Battle Momuments Commission, promise to help preserve the West's heritage and way of life. One veteran argues, however, that "today the fulfillment seems open to being subverted." Another suggests that the president's recent apology to Europeans for Amerca's arrogance "must surely have been directed to the halves of Europe that lost the two world wars." Yet another thinks that "WWI and WWII were both, tragically, civil wars that should never have been fought between Christian nations."
Even so, notice the crosses marking almost all graves, now banned in American national cemeteries in favor of tablets which can display "whatever" symbols. The gravestones of fallen Jewish military are marked, of course, with the Star of David.
If you visit Europe, make these hallowed garden cemeteries the focal theme. You won't be disappointed. Those who lie buried could well be your own family members--or once important to them.
Click on pictures below for a short video, as well as more photos and information.
Aisne-Marne, France. "The 42.5-acre Aisne-Marne Cemetery and Memorial in France, its headstones lying in a sweeping curve, sits at the foot of the hill where stands Belleau Wood. The cemetery contains the graves of 2,289 war dead, most of whom fought in the vicinity and in the Marne valley in the summer of 1918."
Ardennes, Belgium. "The 90-acre cemetery contains the graves of 5,329 of our military dead, many of whom died in the 1944 Ardennes winter offensive (Battle of the Bulge). The headstones are aligned in straight rows that form a Greek cross on the lawns and are framed by tree masses."
Brittany, France. "The Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial in France covers 28 acres of rolling farm country near the eastern edge of Brittany and contains the remains of 4,410 of our war dead, most of whom lost their lives in the Normandy and Brittany campaigns of 1944.
The cemetery is located on the site of the temporary American St. James Cemetery, established on August 4, 1944 by the U.S. Third Army. It marks the point where the American forces made their breakthrough from the hedgerow country of Normandy into the plains of Brittany during the offensive around Avranches."
Brookwood, England American Cemetery. 468 American dead. "Close by are military cemeteries and monuments of the British Commonwealth and other allied nations."
Cambridge, England. "The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial site in England, 30.5 acres in total, was donated by the University of Cambridge. It lies on a slope with the west and south sides framed by woodland. The cemetery contains the remains of 3,812 of our military dead; 5,127 names are recorded on the Tablets of the Missing. Most died in the Battle of the Atlantic or in the strategic air bombardment of northwest Europe."
Epinal, France. "The Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in France, 48.6 acres in extent, is sited on a plateau 100 feet above the Moselle River in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. It contains the graves of 5,255 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the campaigns across northeastern France to the Rhine and beyond into Germany.
The cemetery was established in October 1944 by the 46th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company of the U.S. Seventh Army as it drove northward from southern France through the Rhone Valley into Germany. The cemetery became the repository for the fatalities in the bitter fighting through the Heasbourg Gap during the winter of 1944-45."
Flanders Field, Belgium. "The Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium occupies a 6.2-acre site. Masses of graceful trees and shrubbery frame the burial area and screen it from passing traffic. At the ends of the paths leading to three of the corners of the cemetery are circular retreats, with benches and urns. At this peaceful site rest 368 of our military dead, most of whom gave their lives in liberating the soil of Belgium in World War I."
Florence, Italy. "The Florence American Cemetery and Memorial site in Italy covers 70 acres, chiefly on the west side of the Greve "torrente." The wooded hills that frame its west limit rise several hundred feet. Between the two entrance buildings, a bridge leads to the burial area where the headstones of 4,402 of our military dead are arrayed in symmetrical curved rows upon the hillside.
They represent 39 percent of the U.S. Fifth Army burials originally made between Rome and the Alps. Most died in the fighting that occurred after the capture of Rome in June 1944. Included among them are casualties of the heavy fighting in the Apennines shortly before the war's end. On May 2, 1945, the enemy troops in northern Italy surrendered."
Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. "At the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium, covering 57 acres, rest 7,992 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives during the advance of the U.S. armed forces into Germany. Their headstones are arranged in gentle arcs sweeping across a broad green lawn that slopes gently downhill. A highway passes through the reservation. West of the highway an overlook affords an excellent view of the rolling Belgian countryside, once a battlefield.
The cemetery possesses great military historic significance as it holds fallen Americans of two major efforts, one covering the U.S. First Army's drive in September 1944 through northern France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg into Germany, the second covering the Battle of the Bulge."
Lorraine, France. "The Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in France covers 113.5 acres and contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II in Europe, a total of 10,489.
Most of the dead here were killed while driving the German forces from the fortress city of Metz toward the Siegfried Line and the Rhine River. Initially, there were over 16,000 Americans interred in the St. Avold region, mostly from the U.S. Seventh Army's Infantry and Armored Divisions and its Cavalry Groups. St. Avold served as a vital communications center for the vast network of enemy defenses guarding the western border of the Third Reich."
Luxembourg, Luxembourg. "The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, 50.5 acres in extent, is situated in a beautiful wooded area. The cemetery was established on December 29, 1944 by the 609th Quartermaster Company of the U.S. Third Army while Allied Forces were stemming the enemy's desperate Ardennes Offensive, one of the critical battles of World War II. The city of Luxembourg served as headquarters for General George S. Patton's U.S. Third Army. General Patton is buried here.
Sloping gently downhill from the memorial is the burial area containing 5,076 of our military dead, many of whom lost their lives in the "Battle of the Bulge" and in the advance to the Rhine."
Meuse-Argonne. "Within the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, which covers 130.5 acres, rest the largest number of our military dead in Europe, a total of 14,246. Most of those buried here lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I. The immense array of headstones rises in long regular rows upward beyond a wide central pool to the chapel that crowns the ridge."
Netherlands, Netherlands. "The World War II Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial is the only American military cemetery in the Netherlands. The cemetery site has a rich historical background, lying near the famous Cologne-Boulogne highway built by the Romans and used by Caesar during his campaign in that area. The highway was also used by Charlemagne, Charles V, Napoleon, and Kaiser Wilhelm II. In May 1940, Hitler's legions advanced over the route of the old Roman highway, overwhelming the Low Countries. In September 1944, German troops once more used the highway for their withdrawal from the countries occupied for four years.
Within the tower is a chapel...Beyond the tower is a burial area divided into 16 plots, where rest 8,301 of our military dead, their headstones set in long curves."
Normandy, France. "The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 and the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The cemetery site, at the north end of its ½ mile access road, covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations."
Oise-Aisne, France. "The Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in France contains the remains of 6,012 American war dead, most of whom lost their lives while fighting in this vicinity in 1918 during the First World War."
Rhone, France. "The site of the Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial in France was selected because of its historic location along the route of the U.S. Seventh Army's drive up the Rhone Valley. It was established on August 19, 1944 after the Seventh Army's surprise landing in southern France.
On 12.5 acres at the foot of a hill clad with the characteristic cypresses, olive trees, and oleanders of southern France rest 861 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the liberation of southern France in August 1944."
Sicily, Italy. "The World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site in Italy covers 77 acres, rising in a gentle slope from a broad pool with an island and cenotaph flanked by groups of Italian cypress trees. Beyond the pool is the immense field of headstones of 7,861 of American military war dead, arranged in gentle arcs on broad green lawns beneath rows of Roman pines.
The majority of these men died in the liberation of Sicily (July 10 to August 17, 1943); in the landings in the Salerno Area (September 9, 1943) and the heavy fighting northward; in the landings at Anzio Beach and expansion of the beachhead (January 22, 1944 to May 1944); and in air and naval support in the regions."
Somme, France. "The World War I Somme American Cemetery and Memorial in France is sited on a gentle slope typical of the open, rolling Picardy countryside. The 14.3-acre cemetery contains the graves of 1,844 of our military dead. Most lost their lives while serving in American units attached to British armies, or in operations near Cantigny."
St. Mihiel, France. "The World War I St. Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial in France, 40.5 acres in extent, contains the graves of 4,153 of our military dead. The majority of these died in the offensive that resulted in the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient that threatened Paris."
Suresnes, France. "Originally a World War I cemetery, the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial just outside Paris, France now shelters the remains of U.S. dead of both wars. The 7.5-acre cemetery contains the remains of 1,541 Americans who died in World War I and 24 Unknown dead of World War II. Bronze tablets on the walls of the chapel record the names of 974 World War I missing."
Many veterans have urged support for this Taps-based trumpet hymn to remember the fallen, The Silence (Il Silenzio). OK to keep minimized.
Recognize this American War Cemetery?
(It's Omaha Beach in 2004)
Check also American military cemeteries in the Philippines and North Africa.
D-Day: Omaha Beach and Normandy also farther below