Normandy-9/28/2015 - 10/1/2015

Trouville Caen-Arromanches American Cemetery Pointe du Hoc Mt. Saint Michel Dinner in Honfleur

American Military cemetery, Normandy

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is located in Colleville-sur-Mer, was built on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, and established by the U.S.  Army on June 8, 1944 as the first American cemetery on European soil after World War II. The cemetery covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of American military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations.

A large panel with Cemetery guidelines posted in the parking lot. The cemetery is open to the public daily, except on December 25 and January 1. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April 15 to September 15, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the year. It is open on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the public, staff members are on duty in the visitor center to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites


The Entrance of the Visitor center. The center is located in a wooded area of the cemetery approximately 100 meters east of the Garden of the Missing.


In 2007, the Normandy Visitors Center opened. The $30 million visitor center was dedicated by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) on June 6, 2007 during the commemoration of the 63rd Anniversary of D-Day. 

Hoa signing in the visitor's book.  The American Cemetery in Normandy is the most visited cemetery, receiving approximately one million visitors each year.

The goal of the center is to better tell the courageous and inspiring story of those buried at Normandy American Cemetery.  One-third of the building's 30,000 square feet is dedicated exhibit space. Using personal stories of participants and a mix of narrative text, photos, films, interactive displays and artifacts, exhibits portray the competence, courage and sacrifice of Allied forces.

Competence: Captain Joe Dawson's combat experience in North Africa and Sicily proved invaluable when his company landed on fiercely contested Omaha Beach.  He guide his men through an unmarked gap in a minefield, assaulted and seized formidable enemy positions, and was among the first to climb the bluffs overlooking the beach. competent leadership proved critical to ultimate success of the Landing. 

Courage: Caught in a minefield after landing on Utah Beach, Captain George Mabry pushed through the mined area to engage forces firing on his men.  He charged the enemy, killing some and capturing others.  Mabry was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on D-Day, and later received the Medal of Honor for his courage and Leadership in the Huertgen Forest.


Sacrifice: Sergeant Frank Peregory received the medal of honor for his heroism on June 8, 1944, while moving inland from Omaha Beach.  When machine gun fire halted his units' advance, Peregory stormed thought enemy positions and attacked with his rifle, bayonet and hand grenades.  His daring actions cleared the way for his battalion's successful advance.  He was killed in action a week later, and is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery-Plot G , Row 21, Grave 7

Infinity pool-so relaxing....


The memorial

The memorial consists of a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing large maps and narratives of the military operations; at the center is the bronze statue, “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.” An orientation table overlooking the beach depicts the landings in Normandy.


In the open arc of the memorial facing the graves area is a 22-foot bronze statue, “The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.” The names of the missing are carved into garden walls behind the memorial.

Facing west at the memorial, one sees in the foreground the reflecting pool; beyond is the burial area with a circular chapel and, at the far end, granite statues representing the United States and France.



A large operations maps with narratives and flags of American military services, overlooks the burial area.

Visitors can visualize the daunting challenge and intense combat of the D-Day landings.


In order to get to the cemetery you have to go through the Garden of the Missing.  Beautiful area with well manicured lawn and mature trees.


The Cemetery

The cemetery is located on the site of the temporary American St. James Cemetery, established on August 4, 1944 by the U.S. Third Army. It marks the point where the American forces made their breakthrough from the hedgerow country of Normandy into the plains of Brittany during the offensive around Avranches, France.

The American Cemetery is one of the world’s best-known military cemeteries. Buried on these hallowed grounds are the remains of nearly 9,400 servicemen and women who died on and around Omaha and Utah beaches.

Among the burials at the cemetery are three recipients of the Medal of Honor, including Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of President Theodore Roosevelt. After the creation of the cemetery, another son of President Roosevelt, Quentin, who had been killed in World War I, was exhumed and reburied next to his brother Theodore, Jr.


The cemetery is well maintained and so peaceful overlooking the sea.

Rows and rows of crosses.

I was looking for the grave of the Ryan brothers according to the movie "Saving Private Ryan" and took a picture (left) but Kevin told me that the real name of the brothers are Niland.


A Jewish grave surrounded by crosses. Only 149 graves have Jewish stars because most Jewish soldiers were advised against writing that they were Jewish on their dog tags going into anti-Semitic Europe during WWII. This means that many Jews are probably buried under crosses.

A Jewish grave.

Preston Niland's grave.

The Niland brothers were four American brothers from Tonawanda, New York, serving in the military during World War II. Of the four, two survived the war, but for a time it was believed that only one, Frederick "Fritz" Niland, had survived. After the reported deaths of his three brothers, Fritz was sent back to the United States to complete his service and only later learned that his brother Edward, missing and presumed dead, was actually captive in a Japanese POW camp in Burma. Steven Spielberg's 1998 film Saving Private Ryan is loosely based on the brothers' story.

Preston and Robert are buried at the American Cemetery.  In the movie Frederick Niland was portrayed by Matt Damon.

The Chapel

At the center of the cemetery sits a small chapel.



The allies flags are all represented in the chapel.

A ceiling mosaic depicts America blessing her sons as they depart to fight for freedom.




Walking back to the Memorial center...

NEXT...Pointe du Hoc, Normandy



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