In observance of Veterans Day this year I’m taking you to the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in Saint-Avold, France. Spread out over 113 acres, it is the largest American military cemetery in Europe and the final resting place for 10,489 war dead from World War II.
The American Battle Monuments Commission oversees the construction and maintenance of military cemeteries around the world, and the use of this particular land for the cemetery and memorial was granted in perpetuity by France to mark the heroic, deadly American and Allied advances across the Rhine and Germany in 1945.
This is what it’s like to (impossibly) quantify 10,489 acts of bravery:
For some people it’s a bit morbid to visit cemeteries where no one you know is buried. For me, I find that a part of our living history is told through these places. Anywhere around the world you can get a glimpse into a culture by how they commemorate death. Life and death are universal, but the rituals of saying farewell can be very different depending where you live. Plus I find places of solace and solemnity a great mental retreat for my sometimes very noisy life.
Freedom is a luxury gifted to us at the expense of many others.
As long as we still wage wars against one another, every day should be Veterans Day.