How to Visit American Cemeteries in Europe

American Cemeteries in Europe- featured image

How to Visit American Cemeteries in Europe

There are many beautiful, historical, and memorable sights to see all over Europe. Many are stone monuments, crumbling under the blazing sun. Some are bustling cities built of metal and glass. Natural wonders https://duffelbagspouse.com/things-to-do-in-idar-oberstein-germany/carved out of the landscape of the time. Conversely, some, like American Cemeteries, leave pervasive memories, lasting emotions dedicated to our service members. Consequently, many of them lie within a few hours from any base in Germany.

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American Cemeteries in Europe

However, strolling through American Cemeteries, you get a chance to honor the dead. Thereby offering a glimpse into the lives of the interned from the headstones, epithets, and flowers left by loved ones. Above all, precision and a clear focus on military order and pride lay out military cemeteries. And an overwhelming sense of awe. Therefore, twenty American cemeteries and over 103,000 U.S. war dead interred in them from both world wars. And chances are you’re close to at least a few of them. Privates and Generals lay side-by-side. They lay in eternal formation in cemeteries all around France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Italy.

Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery

The largest American Cemetery is just a 3-4 hr drive from the Kaiserslautern and Wiesbaden areas. Located in the Lorraine area of France, the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery is not only the largest American military cemetery in Europe. It’s also one of the prettiest. It’s the final resting place for over 14,000 Service Members. They fought and died during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I. Their leader, General John J. Pershing.

The Layout

The cemetery is located on 130 acres of lush greens and foliage just east of the village of Romagne-Gesnes. So it’s approximately 26 miles/42 kilometers northwest of Verdun. You get a sense of pride and sorrow walking down the formation of row after row of American soldiers. Each marker contains the same information. The decedent’s full name, rank, date of death, unit, and hometown mark them. The immense array of headstones rises in a long upward T. It’s adjacent to a circular reflecting pool and fountain. Both sit in front of the hedge-lined entrance to the chapel.

The Chapel

The chapel sits on a gently sloping ridge adorned with a beautiful bronze screen. The stained-glass windows feature the etching of the American unit insignia. Consequently, one of the most beautiful American Cemeteries in Europe.

Flags of the principal Allied nations fly behind the altar and on either side of the chapel are memorial loggias. One panel on the covered loggia contains a map of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. And there are 954 names on the Tablet of the Missing located on the remaining panel walls. Rosettes denote the names of soldiers who have been recovered and identified since then.

Montfaucon

The American monument at Montfaucon, standing more than 200 feet above the war ruins of the former village, is 7 miles/ 11 kilometers south of the cemetery. “Lady Liberty” symbolizing the valor of the soldiers who forced the enemy to retreat from the village in 1918, stands atop the column. A special tribute to the American soldiers who served and died here is engraved on the foyer walls. By climbing 234 steps, visitors can reach the observation platform at the top of the memorial, which offers magnificent views of the now silent battlefield below.

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Operating Hours

Each American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Cemetery holds annual Memorial Day programs. The cemetery is open daily to the public from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It closes on December 25 and January 1. And it is always free of charge.

It is also open on French public holidays. A staff member is on duty in the Visitors’ Building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites. Each American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Cemetery holds annual Memorial Day programs.

Programs

American and Korean flags decorate all the gravesites. Programs usually include participation by the respective U.S. Ambassador. It also includes a President’s Memorial Day Proclamation, speakers. And concludes with the presentation of the National Colors, wreath-laying ceremonies, military bands. D-Day commemorative events are planned annually on June 6th by the French Comite du Debarquement (D-Day Landing Committee).

What to Expect

Each year millions of American and foreign citizens visit ABMC cemeteries and memorials. The commission receives thousands of inquiries yearly, many seeking to facilitate visits or locate individual gravesites. The Commission provides the following services to the requestor: Name, location, and information on cemeteries and memorials. Plot, row, and grave number or memorialization location of Honored War Dead. Best in-country routes, modes of travel, and accommodations. Escort service for relatives to grave and memorial sites within the cemeteries. Letters authorizing fee-free passports for members of the immediate family traveling overseas to visit a grave or memorialization site.

Burial in the Meuse-Argonne

Black and white photographs of headstones and Tablets of the Missing on which the names of dead or missing are engraved. Arrangements for floral decorations placed at graves and memorialization sites.

The Meuse-Argonne was established on October 14, 1918, by the American Graves Registration Service on land captured by the 32nd Infantry Division. The use of the land has been granted by the French government free of charge or taxation in perpetuity. It’s as an expression of its gratitude to the United States. In 1943, the administration of the cemetery passed to the ABMC. They administer, operate, and maintain 24 permanent American burial grounds on foreign soil.

For More Information

Burial in ABMC cemeteries is limited. Host countries limit burials to members of the U.S. armed forces who died overseas during the wars. In addition, U.S. civilians, Red Cross workers, and entertainers serving the military are treated as members of the armed forces. For more information on the Meuse-Argonne or any of the other American Battle Monuments Commission Cemeteries in Europe go to http://www.abmc.gov/home.php.

Cemetery Locations

Belgium Ardennes N50 32.513 E5 28.145 4121.
Neupré, Belgium Flanders Field N50 52.424 E3 27.218 8790.
Waregem, Belgium Henri-Chapelle N50 41.803 E5 53.932 4852.
Plombières, BelgiumFrance Aisne-Marne N49 04.767 E3 17.486 02400.
Belleau, France Epinal N48 08.591 E6 29.814 88000.
Dinozé, France Brittany N48 31.199 W1 18.067 50240.
Montjoie-Saint-Martin, France Lorraine N49 07.302 E6 42.872 57500.
Saint-Avold, France Meuse-Argonne N49 20.044 E5 05.376 55110.
Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France Normandy N49 21.394 W0 51.192 14710.
Colleville-sur-Mer, France Oise-Aisne N49 12.134 E3 32.894 02130.
Seringes-et-Nesles, France Rhone N43 32.1683 E6 28.3783 83300.
Draguignan, France Somme N49 59.103 E3 12.798 02420.
Bony, France St. Mihiel N48 57.419 E5 51.184 54470.
Thiaucourt-Regniéville, France Suresnes N48 57.419 E5 51.184 54470.
Thiaucourt-Regniéville, FranceItaly Florence N43 41.522 E11 12.551 50023.
Impruneta FI, Italy Sicily-Rome N41 27.918 E12 39.503 00048.
Nettuno RM, Italy, Luxembourg Luxembourg N49 36.771 E6 11.157.
Netherlands N50 49.260 E5 48.223.
Amerikaanse Begraafplaats 1, 6269 NA Margraten, Netherlands, United Kingdom Brookwood N51 18.072 W0 38.430.
Surrey GU24 0, UK Cambridge N52 13.020 E0 03.320.
Madingley, Cambridgeshire CB23 7, UK.

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Comments

  1. Jean Peckham Kavale

    Thank you for the excellent article. My father’s job as head of the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) began in 1947 when the U.S. dead of the European Theater were in 37 temporary cemeteries scattered throughout the Continent. Under him, more than 80,000 were returned home and about 60,000 others were buried in ten permanent cemeteries in Europe, graded and built by the AGRC. (More information about this subject is in Dad’s biography,“A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham” ( on Amazon).

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thank you. And thank you for sharing. Its nice to know that stories I find interesting are interesting to other people as well. I hope you come back again soon.

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