The American cemetery near the village of Romagne sous Montfaucon looks like a beautiful parkland with a size of 52 hectares. At the entrance and the exit, the cemetery is guarded by tall white columns bearing the American eagle standing guard.
In this cemetery of honor, between the shaved lawns and the white crosses, there is an atmosphere of reconciliation and acceptance of the death of so many soldiers.
The Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery is the largest American cemetery in Europe. 14,246 Americans are buried here, 486 of whom could not be identified. Most of them were killed during the major Meuse-Argon offensive that took place between September 26 and November 11, 1918. 1,000,000 American soldiers were deployed.
The site of the cemetery is located on the old front line of the Meuse-Argonne offensive and has been given by the French government on permanent loan to the United States. The cemetery is inaugurated on October 14, 1918 and is located in an area that was once conquered by the US 32nd US Division.
The graves are divided into eight separate sections (‘plots’) each bordered by lime trees. Each grave has its own marble gravestone in the form of a cross; the graves of the dead who belonged to the Jewish faith are in the shape of a rock and carry a Star of David in the top.
The text on each headstone mentions the name of the soldier, rank, military unit, the American state of origin and the date of death. Unlike the British, the Americans do not mention age on the stone. On the tombstones of the 486 unidentified soldiers is the text: “Here rests in honored glory an American Soldier known but to God.”
We have visited this cemetery many times, also for personal reasons! Every time we come and we see all those white crosses we realize that there is a face to it and images us then that in every place where a cross stands a young man. Young men who had a whole life ahead of them, but because of the war there was an abrupt end to this.
Many of the photos are from soldiers coming from the state of Minnesota.
Source soldiers images, Susi Adler.