Overseas ceremonies honor fallen Americans

WASHINGTON — Not all of the country’s deceased soldiers are buried on U.S. soil.

In fact, ceremonies to honor fallen American service men and women will take place overseas throughout the weekend.

“We have cemeteries in 10 different countries, with the majority being in Europe because that’s where the conflicts happened,” says Sarah Herrman, digital communication manager with the American Battle Monuments Commission, which manages 25 military cemeteries overseas.

The commission, established by Congress in 1923, is the guardian of American cemeteries abroad.

More than 500,000 Americans died during World War I and World War II. Of that number, more than 200,000 are buried in places like France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Philippines, Tunisia, Panama and Mexico.

“At the time of these conflicts,” Herrman says, “loved ones were given the option if they wanted the fallen returned home to be buried, or if they wanted them permanently buried overseas.”

General George S. Patton, who died in December 1945, was laid to rest at the Luxembourg American Cemetery “to be buried next to his men,” Herrman says. “General Patton’s grave in Luxemburg is one of our most visited gravesites.”

World War I Sergeant Joyce Kilmer, an American writer who penned the poem “Trees,” is buried at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in France.

“The U.S. government made a promise to these families that they would care for these sites overseas,” Herrman says. “We also have local citizens that are employed with cutting the grass and cleaning the headstones.”

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