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Paying tribute to WWI fallen in France

First Lt. Huy Nguyen of the 421st Medical Battalion out of Baumholder, Germany, reads the names on some of the graves following the Memorial Day ceremony at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France, Sunday, May 28, 2017. With 14,246 American World War I dead buried here, it is the largest American cemetery in Europe.

MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

By MICHAEL ABRAMS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 28, 2017

ROMAGNE-SOUS-MONTFAUCON, FRANCE — American and French flags marked each of the 14,246 graves at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery during an annual Memorial Day tribute Sunday.

White crosses and Stars of David glinted in the bright sun.

American and French citizens came to this cemetery in the rolling hills of north-eastern France to honor servicemembers who gave their lives near here almost a century ago.

Participants and spectators alike fanned themselves with ceremony programs to keep cool in the summer-like heat.

The ceremony began with the presenting of colors by a U.S. Air Force honor guard from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Dignitaries included local mayors, retired Air Force Gen. Merrill McPeak, head of the American Battle Monuments Commission, and Uzra Zeya, charge d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Paris, who gave the Memorial Day address.

More than a dozen floral arrangements were presented by dignitaries and veterans’ groups – including VFW Post27 from Wiesbaden, Germany -- to honor the dead.

Music was provided by a French army band and a bugler, dressed in a period uniform, played taps standing among the graves.

After the ceremony 1st Lt. Huy Nguyen of the 64th Medical Detachment, 421st Medical Battalion out of Baumholder, Germany, walked through the graves, reading the markers. He found one where the soldier died the day before the war ended.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “Just days before the war was over, they were still dying. It is very humbling here.”

abrams.mike@stripes.com

French and American servicemembers, including Staff Sgt. William Cole and Senior Airman Jordan Renfrow, hold floral arrangements during the Memorial Day ceremony at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France, Sunday May 28, 2017. The airmen are with Detachment 1, 4th Air Special Operations Group in Hohenfels, Germany.
MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

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