Five Things To Discover At Normandy American Cemetery
by Helene Chaulin,
American Battle Monuments Commission
March 28, 2023
The American Battle Monuments Commission
(ABMC) Normandy American Cemetery sits on a bluff overlooking Omaha
Beach, also known as “Bloody Omaha”, where part of the Normandy
landings happened on June 6, 1944.
A reminding pride stirring, view of Normandy American Cemetery from its memorial on May 31, 2005. (American Battle Monuments Commission photo by Russell Toof.)
But, besides the more than 10,000 service
members commemorated or memorialized there, are you sure to know
everything about this quite well-known site?
Here are five things
you may not know about Normandy American Cemetery.
A Permanent Resting
The cemetery is built on the site of
the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S.
First Army on June 8, 1944, as the first American cemetery in
Northwest Europe in World War II. It was formed into a permanent
site through the consolidation of ten temporary cemeteries in the
region established during Operation Overlord and the campaign
The Last Burial
The most recent burial at the
Normandy American Cemetery happened on July 9, 2022. Second Lt.
William J. McGowan, a U.S. Army Air Forces pilot who was killed on
D-Day, was buried there almost 80 years after his death. His remains
were discovered during the excavation of his crash site, and
officially accounted for on May 13, 2019.
While the cemetery is
closed to burials, the next of kin of individuals like McGowan, whose
missing remains are later identified are able to choose interment at
Brothers In Rest
There is one World War
I aviator killed in action buried at Normandy American Cemetery,
which is almost entirely made up of those who lost their lives on
D-Day or during ensuing operations. Quentin Roosevelt, the youngest
son of President Theodore Roosevelt, was killed in aerial combat in
After construction of the permanent cemetery, Quentin’s
remains were reinterred at Normandy to lie in rest beside his
brother, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. Theodore was 56-years old
when he led the assault on Utah Beach on D-Day, for which he was
awarded the Medal of Honor. He died of a heart attack in France in
1944 roughly a month after the invasion.
At the far end of the cemetery, granite statues
stand at either end of a small hemicycle. On one side, the statue of
Columbia, representing the U.S., is holding an eagle. On the other
side, the statue of Marianne, representing France, is holding a
rooster. Both allegorical figures of the two nations are holding
olive branches, a symbol of peace. Those two figures are also
present on the roof of the chapel.
Frozen In Time
June 6, 1969, a time capsule was buried at the cemetery embedded in
the lawn directly opposite the entrance to the site’s administration
building. The sealed capsule is covered by a pink granite slab and
is dedicated to Eisenhower, and contains news reports of the
Normandy landings. It will be opened on June 6, 2044, on the
hundredth anniversary of the allied landings along Normandy’s
The ABMC’s mission is to honor the service of the
Armed Forces by creating and maintaining memorial sites, offering
commemorative services, and facilitating the education of their
legacy to future generations. It was founded in 1923 following World
War I and its 26 cemeteries and 32 monuments honor the service men
and women who fought and perished during World War I (WWI), World
War II (WWII), the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as some
who fought during the Mexican-American War.
Those sites are a
constant reminder of Gen. John J. Pershing’s promise that “time will
not dim the glory of their deeds”.
American Battle Monuments Commission
Boots Losing Her Buddy In The Hedgerows Of Normandy | Heroes
Honoring The Fallen |
Don't Weep For Me |
Remember The Fallen |
Tears For Your Fallen |
America's Best | America's Greatest
Heroes | Uncommon Valor
Our Valiant Troops |
I Am The One
Answering The Call
The U.S. Marines |
Citizens Like Us |
Vietnam War Veterans
Spouses Serve Too
We The People
Answering The Call |
One Nation Under God |
Love and Pride of USA
National Will |
God and Country |
America, My Home!