Weekend events honor US service members who died in world wars
Stars and Stripes May 26, 2023
Amidst Europe’s rolling hills and verdant forests are found powerful reminders of the price of peace. Meticulously tended cemeteries containing seas of crosses that line up symmetrically from whatever angle they are viewed are the final resting place for American soldiers, airmen and sailors fallen in the two world wars. These hallowed grounds are looked after by the American Battle Monuments Commission, an agency of the executive branch of the U.S. federal government. According to the ABMC website, 207,621 U.S. war dead from World War I and World War II are commemorated at their sites worldwide, several of which hold commemorative events for Memorial Day. Attendance to all ceremonies is free and open to the public. The following is only a partial list; for other times and places, look online at tinyurl.com/nhzdztth.
Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupré: 10 a.m., Saturday, May 27
On site: Of the 5,162 graves found here, some 65% percent belong to airmen who served in the U.S. Army Air Forces.
Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Hombourg: 4 p.m., Saturday, May 27
On site: Here rest 7,987 U.S. military dead, the fallen Americans of two major efforts including the U.S. First Army's drive into Germany in 1944 and the Battle of the Bulge.
Nearby: Just a few miles outside the cemetery, one can visit monuments dedicated to the 1st Infantry Division, 30th Infantry Division, and 99th Infantry Divisions. The nearby Remember Museum 39-45 may be visited by appointment only. Online: remembermuseum.be
What’s on locally: The city of Liège, about a half-hour’s drive away from either ABMC cemetery, hosts its Summer Lover’s Beer Festival This showcase of some 150 locally brewed artisanal beers takes place at Place St-Lambert. The Jazz à Liège festival is a mix of free and ticketed concerts scattered throughout town. On May 27, one-man band Johnny Dick is set to rock the stage at a free concert at Le Village from 7 p.m. Online: jazzaliege.be
Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint-Avold: 11 a.m., Sunday, May 28
On site: With its total of 10,481 graves, this cemetery contains the largest number of U.S. military fallen in World War II in Europe. The site is overlooked by a memorial framed by Tablets of the Missing on which 444 names are inscribed. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.
What’s on locally: Through May 29, the Parc Expo in the city of Metz is the site of the Foire de May, a fun fair offering rides, games of chance and tasty treats. Just north of Metz, the commune of Woippy en Moselle celebrates its Fête de la Fraise, or Strawberry Festival, with events scheduled throughout May and June. Activities on the agenda for May 28 include a parade and fete on the Place Andre Debs. Online: tinyurl.com/3c93j6r2
Florence American Cemetery in Tavarnuzze: 11 a.m., Monday, May 29
On site: this 70-acre site, framed by steep wooded hills along its western perimeter, contains the headstones of 4,392 U.S. military dead.
What’s on locally: Through June 4, the village of Montespertoli, about a half hour’s drive from the cemetery, hosts its annual Mostra del Chianti, a showcase of the region’s famous white wine. Tastings, regional specialties and live music hint at a fun day out. Online: mostradelchianti.it
Luxembourg American Cemetery in Hamm: 2 p.m., Saturday, May 27
On site: The city of Luxembourg served as headquarters for General George S. Patton's U.S. Third Army, so it makes sense that this cemetery serves as Patton’s final resting place. The only four-star general buried at an American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery was initially buried in the middle of a plot like every other service member, but as the large number of visitors to his grave caused significant damage to the cemetery grounds, his remains were transferred to their current location at the front of the grave plots (Plot P, Row 1, Grave 1).
Nearby: The General Patton Museum finds its home in Ettelbruck, a town twice liberated by Patton’s 80th infantry division. Over a thousand photographs and documents bear witness to the German invasion in May 1940, the Nazi occupation and the town’s liberation. Other sections of the exhibition present weapons and military equipment discovered on the battlefield of the Battle of the Bulge in recent years and shed light on the air war in Luxembourg. Adult admission to the museum is 5 euros; it’s closed on Mondays and holidays. Online: patton.lu/en/decouvrir/le-musee
What’s on locally: The “Wine Taste Enjoy” event, held each year on Pentecost weekend, sees wineries, distilleries, museums and nature conservation areas along the Moselle River open their spaces to visitors. Wine tastings, music, art exhibitions and culinary specialities make this an ideal weekend to explore and perhaps take home a few bottles of Crémants, the local sparkling wine. Online: wte.visitmoselle-event.lu
The town of Arlon, just across the Belgian border, hosts its annual Maitrank festivities through the weekend. The celebrations, folkloric in nature, center around a drink made of white wine and a local herb. Enjoy a parade, entertainment on stage, live music and more. Online: fetesdumaitrank.be
Cambridge American Cemetery in Cambridge: 11 a.m., Monday, May 29
On site: Leave time for the visitor center, where exhibits made up of photos, films, personal stories and interactive displays help visitors to gain a better understanding of the Battle of the Atlantic.
Nearby: Those not from the area might wish to use the day to visit the Imperial War Museum Duxford, an air museum and historic airfield that played critical roles in both World Wars. Nine thematic themed permanent displays occupy the vast hangars of Europe’s largest air museum, including the American Air Museum. Those living closer by might wish to time their visits to one of the summer’s upcoming air shows, including Flying Days: Commemorating D-Day on June 4, the Duxford Summer Air Show on June 24-25, Flying Days: The Americans on July 28, or the Battle of Britain Air Show on Sept. 16-17. Online: iwm.org.uk/airshows