Friday, May 25, 2007

Remembering American veterans buried abroad

A very poignant article yesterday in Stars and Stripes, "Row upon row, Americans lie at Dutch cemetery," reminds us of the many fallen Americans whose graves remain abroad. According to the article, the American Battle Monuments Commission maintains 21 cemeteries in Europe and North Africa where U.S. military members killed during the two world wars are buried. At a time when modern society is taking over the land and traces of battle are harder to find, these are places where the reminders of the wars are easy to see and where it is possible to honor those who gave their lives for their countries.

The article pays tribute to those who died and those who lived but carried the wounds of battle with them to their graves, physically and emotionally. It also pays tribute to those whose missing in action. "About 78,000 Americans who went off to World War II are listed as missing. Eight thousand of them are buried in American cemeteries as unknown soldiers." Between 1945 and 1951, more than 230,000 U.S. service members killed during World War II were repatriated from cemeteries worldwide. However, many families believed it more appropriate for them to stay with comrades near the battlefields where they died. As a result, more than 93,000 men and women are buried in American cemeteries around the world.

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