Memorial Day

by Buddy Dugan

May 18, 2014

For thirty one years of military service, I commemorated Memorial Day. For three years, from 1985 to 1987, I gave the invocations and benedictions at the Meuse-Argonne cemetery in France, on Memorial Days. It is the largest World War I American cemetery, having 14,246 American graves. The reason that I participated is that I was serving as the Command Staff chaplain for the 1st Infantry Division (Forward) with headquarters in Goppingen, Germany, and the 1st Infantry Division had fought in the Meuse-Argonne campaign in World War I. The French invited us to participate as our unit was the only one in Europe that had the heritage of participating in the Meuse-Argonne battles.

We pause on Memorial Day to remember all who have served in our armed services, but especially to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. There are 124,139 American graves in overseas plots. Below is a list of those sites and the numbers buried there.

World War I

Aisne-Marne, France 2289

Flanders, Belgium 368

Meuse-Argonne, France 14,246

Oise-Aisne, France 6012

Somme, France 1844

Saint Mihiel, France 4153

Suresnes, France 1541

World War II

Ardennes, Belgium 5329

Brittany, France 4412

Brookwood, England 468

Cambridge, England 3812

Epinal, France 5255

Florence, Italy 4402

Henri-Chapelle, Belgium 7992

Lorraine, France 10,489 (largest WW II in Europe)

Luxembourg, Luxembourg 5076 (General Patton’s grave)

Netherlands, Netherlands 8301

Normandy, France 9387

Rhone, France 861

Sicily, Italy 7861

Manila, Philippines 17,202 (largest)

North Africa, Tunisia 2841

The enormity of the numbers, a total of 124, 139, should give us pause to consider the selfless sacrifices our nation has made in the cause of peace. May they rest in peace and may we never forget the price of our freedom.