Each and every member of the armed services has contributed to our nation’s freedom and liberty. With pride and gratitude we salute the brave men and women who risked their lives to protect us. Happy Veterans Day!
On Wednesday we took a train across the border from San Sabastian to Hendaye, France. We then traveled on the high-speed train to Paris. Although we were both anxious to get home we had one last stop to make before our flight out on Friday. On Thursday we scheduled a car and driver to take us to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. This beautiful cemetery is about an hour from Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The 42.5-acre Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France sits at the foot of Belleau Wood. The cemetery contains the graves of 2,289 war dead, most of whom fought in the vicinity and in the Marne Valley in the summer of 1918. The memorial chapel sits on a hillside, decorated with sculptured and stained-glass details of wartime personnel, equipment and insignia. Inscribed on its interior wall are 1,060 names of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. In 1940 during World War II the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery chapel was damaged due to heavy fighting in the vicinity. All damage was repaired except for one shell hole in the chapel, left as a reminder of what took place. Belleau Wood adjoins the cemetery and contains many vestiges of World War I. A monument at the flagpole commemorates the valor of the U.S. Marines who captured much of this ground in 1918.
The remains of the hunting lodge lie in the northwest corner of the wood, on a hillside behind the cemetery chapel. During the fighting, the "pavillon" served as a German battalion headqurters until first overrun by the 43rd Company, USMC. From the top of the structure, the Marines could see well behind the German lines.
World War I ended 100 years ago this Sunday, in 1918, on what became the day America celebrates its veterans. Originally called Armistice Day and now marked as Veterans Day, tradition calls for commemoration at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month (November).