Monday, May 25, 2009

American Cemetery at Normandy

I visited the cemetery early on a June morning in 2000 after first walking the beach below.  It was a very moving experience for me to walk among so many graves of my countrymen.  They seemed to stretch on forever.  I cannot look at these pictures without finding tears in my eyes.

The Memorial overlooks a reflecting pool and the graves of 9,387 American  dead.  The names of another 1,557 Americans who lost their lives in the conflict but could not be located and/or identified are inscribed on the walls of a semicircular garden at the east side of the memorial.

France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with most military and civil personnel employed abroad. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils.

The cemetery is located on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel. It covers 70 hectare (172 acres), and contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. Included are graves of Army Air Force crews shot down over France as early as 1942. The graves face westward, towards the United States.


Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I have never been to that cemetery, but the pictures speaks for themselves. Very moving...

I heard of a similar cemetery for all the soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. I remember seeing row of white crosses in pictures in thinking that war is indeed an ugly thing.

Unknown said... [Reply to comment]

The film "Saving Private Ryan" starring Tom Hanks presents an accurate depiction of the D-day invasion of Normandy. Walking over those open beaches and looking at the low hills from which withering machine gun fire greeted the invading forces made me realize how terrible it must have been. Some of the scenes will make you squirm but it is an excellent film.

Elleona said... [Reply to comment]

Bonjour Bill.

En effet, étant native du Pas-de-Calais, je connais tous ces cimetières militaires qui jalonnent nos départements du Nord de la France et je connais ce mémorial normand.
Il y a une beauté poignante à voir cette rigueur militaire honorant ces jeunes hommes américains qui reposent sur notre sol après l'avoir vaillamment défendu.
J'ai été élevée dans une petite ville du bord de mer qui faisait face à l'Angleterre et dont les falaises s'ornaient de blockhaus allemands... Alors, je connais tout cela.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

That's a very moving entry Bill and makes me realise that soon there will be no one alive who actually lived through WW2. For me it's a part of my past but for most people, nowadays, it's history and I somehow don't like
WW2 being confined to books and pictures. Not sure if I'm getting my emotions over but I know what I mean.


Unknown said... [Reply to comment]

Anne - It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, as Dickens wrote. The war was hellish, yet the war brought people together in shared adversity. When we of our generation pass away there will be other wars to remember, and other lessons to forget.

Katrina said... [Reply to comment]

What a beautiful entry! Being the daughter, granddaughter, and wife of veterans, I can only say that what those men and women died for will never be restricted to just textbooks and classrooms. When I finally have children, they will know what was given.