Normandy American Cemetery
14710 Colleville sur Mer, Colleville-sur-Mer, France
www.abmc.gov - 02 31 51 62 00
Normandy American Cemetery Colleville-sur-Mer Reviews
Jun 29, 2007
Following the fighting in Normandy, there were apx ten American cemeteries scattered on the battlefield, with hundreds of small burial grounds and isolated graves. The American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC) relocated about 60% of these burials back to the United States, and concentrated the remaining casualties into two main cemeteries; one in Normandy and another in Britanny. If you have yet to step foot onto Normandy Beach or any one of the many museums, following your visit to the cemetary, ensure you visit this other 'Hallowed Ground' where so many young men gave their lives. At 172 1/2 acres, the Normandy American Cemetery has 9,387 burials of US service men and women. Of this number, some 307 are unknowns, three are Medal of Honor recipients and four are women, including 33 pairs of brothers buried side by side. It is the largest American Cemetery from WW2, however the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery from WW1 contains more than 14,000 burials and is the largest in Europe. The main body of the cemetery is rectangular with the main paths laid out in the pattern of a Latin cross (refelcting the grave markers for each service member laid to rest here). When you arrive, first stop in the Visitors Building where veterans can sign the Veteran's Book, and all others the main Visitors Book. Here you can also trace US servicemen and women who are in the care of AMBC either in cemeteries or on memorials. You can also pick up a free brochure about the cemetery. Once you are done in the visitor center proceed to the Memorial, the main feature is a 22 foot bronze statue called "The Sprit of American Youth Rising From The Waves". Either side of this contain wall maps showing the campaign in the European Theatre of Operations. Behind the statue is the "Garden of the Missing" which honors some 1,557 soldiers, sailors and airmen who fell in Normandy and have no known grave. (Those who remains have been found since the war are indicated with an asterisk) The servicemen imortalized here represent all but one of the 50 States. From the garden you can enter the main body of the cemetery and follow the path to The Chapel. This is built from limestone and the main inscription inside reads "I Give Unto Them Etneral Life and They Shall Never Perish". The cemetery borders on the left side of Omaha Beach, and overlooks the sector where the 1st Division landed on D Day. There is a Viewing Platform with a useful map, and paths which take you down the slopes and onto the beach. Aside from the thousands of unknowns and common folk are some very famous and legendary warriors including Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr (located Block D : Row 28 : Graves 45 & 46) who died on 12 July 1944. BG Roosevelt was nephew to President Roosevelt and is buried beside his brother Quentin who was killed in WWI serving as a pilot. BG Roosevelt is a Recipient of the Medal of Honor. Also found here are the two brothers who inspired 'Saving Private Ryan' (located Block F : Row 15 : Graves 11 & 12) 2LT Preston Niland of the 22nd Infantry and Sgt Robert Niland of the 505th PIR. Robert was killed on D Day and Preston on 7th June. A third brother was thought killed in the Pacific, so the fourth was allowed home. However, the brother in the Pacific actaully survived the war. It was their story which inspired the script writers for 'Saving Private Ryan' A Father and Son (located Block E : Row 20 : Graves 19 & 20) Col. Ollie Reed, 115th Infantry, 30th July 1944 and 1LT Ollie Reed Jr., 163rd Infantry, 6th July 1944. Medal of Honor recipient T/Sgt Frank Peregory (located Block G : Row 21 : Grave 7) of the 116th Infantry, 29th Division who was killed in action 14th June 1944. Medal of Honor recipient 1LT Jimmie W. Monteith Jr (located Block I : Row 20 : Grave 12) of the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, killed in action 6th June 1944. While visiting these grave sites is often a popular stop for many visitors, I found t more compelling to stop and refelct in front of the Unknowns or those identified from my home state. Serving in the same unit as many of these great men, you feel a bond, a simple connection through a brotherhood only known through the service to one's country and through the hardships of war. When you have the opporunity, take the time to stop and pay your respects, it is well worth the day, and is the greatest way to honor those you did not know, and those who fought for others they did not know.
(Much of this information was found @ http://battlefieldsww2.50megs.com/normandy_american_cemetery.htm, ©Paul Reed 2002-2006)
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