To commemorate National POW/MIA Recognition Day, September 18, four representatives of the DAF Veterans and Military Families Caucus laid a wreath on the alter in the chapel at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial at Mont Valerien, near Paris. It is a most captivating chapel, where the names of the 974 Missing in Action, men buried or lost at sea during WWI, are shown on four plaques.
Anna Marie Mattson, (Interim Chair of the DAF Veterans and Military Families Caucus), Beth Herwood, Tilly Gaillard and Claire Baker were escorted on an instructive, moving guided tour of the cemetery by Sandrine Debote, Assistant Director, Guide and Associate of the cemetery.
World War I soldiers, seamen, and members of the Air Force, all comrades in arms from across the United States lie at rest in this cemetery where tombs are marked with Latin crosses (1542) and Stars of David (22). The tombstones show the name, home state, branch of the military, date of death. The cemetery is beautifully tended to respect the right to peace and tranquility of the fallen. There are 24 unknown soldiers from WWII; correction 23 ‘unknown’ since now 1 ‘known’ soldier thanks to a recent DNA test. The family had the choice to either bring their loved one home or leave him with the other soldiers. Their decision was to leave him in France.
The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) was established by Congress in 1921 to honor the U.S. Armed Forces who fought abroad so that “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds” (General John Pershing). The cemeteries are open to the public. The land is made available to the United States in perpetuity but remains the property of the Republic of France.
Check out the pictures here.