From the footage, you can see an enormous formation of white crosses, arrayed over a long stretch of green lawn, and demarcated by a series of paths that form a Latin Cross. Underneath these numerous rows of crosses are the remains of men and women who gave their lives in service to their beloved country, and the still ambiance that hangs over the vicinity is the sadness of what war can do.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is perched atop a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel, in the coastal commune of Colleville-Sur-Mer.
Stretching over an area of 172 acres, the cemetery holds the remains of 9,387 deceased American military personnel. Most of them were killed in action during the invasion of Normandy on the 6th of June 1944, and the rest were killed during subsequent WWII operations in Europe.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial lies on the site of the temporary St. Laurent Cemetery, which was established on June 8, 1944, as the first American WWII cemetery in Europe.
The invasion of Normandy was the largest ever amphibious invasion, costing numerous American lives on foreign soil. However, only a small fraction of the Americans soldiers who died overseas was buried overseas.
The standard procedure for the burial of deceased personnel was to seek the opinion of the deceased’s next of kin as to whether the remains should be repatriated for permanent burial within the United States or interred overseas at the closest cemetery.
Included in the graveyard are the graves of crews from the Army Air Corps who died in action while flying over France in 1942. Also in the midst of all these resting places are the graves of three American women.
All areas occupied by the cemetery had been released by France to the United States, with no charges or taxes, in honor of the sacrifices of the US armed forces.
Located close to Omaha Beach, this place also stands as a memorial to the historic event that occurred on the beach not far away.
In a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial, there is a feature called the Walls of the Missing. Engraved on these walls are the names of 1,557 soldiers whose remains were never found
At the Memorial, there is a semicircular colonnade with a loggia fixed at each end. Right here you can find large maps along with narratives of the military operations with respect to the event. At the center of the memorial stands a 22-foot bronze statue captioned The Spirit of American Youth Rising From the Waves.
There is an orientation table overlooking Omaha beach, depicting the landings at Normandy.
Facing west from the memorial, you can see the reflecting pool in the foreground, and beyond that is the mall with the burial areas to each side and the circular chapel further ahead. Past the chapel, there are granite statues representing France and the United States.
Embedded in the cemetery’s lawn is a time capsule with the news report of the invasion of Normandy inside. This time capsule has an inscription on it which clearly states that it should not be opened until June 6, 2044, exactly one hundred years from the day of the Normandy landings.
Among those buried in this cemetery are Quentin and Theodore Jr., the two sons of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
The Normandy American cemetery receives approximately 1 million visitors every year, who come from across the world to pay tribute to these heroes whose sacrifices have never been forgotten.