'Resolve Of Our Nation' Found At American Cemetery
(August 21, 2009)
David Bedford sits in front of the Cambridge
American Cemetery and Memorial's great mall Aug. 10, 2009 in
Cambridge, England. Mr. Bedford is the superintendent of the
Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial and an American veteran.
He's been the superintendent of the cemetery for 2.5 years and has
worked for the American Battle Monuments Commission for 10 years.
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England (8/17/2009 - AFNS)
the 124,913 American war-dead buried overseas, 3,812 are at the Cambridge
American Cemetery and Memorial, less than a 45-minute drive from here.
The buried aren't the only ones remembered on these hallowed grounds, as the
Tablets of the Missing lists 5,127 Americans who sacrificed their lives in World
War II. The names on the list include Joseph Kennedy Jr., John F. Kennedy's
brother; and Lt. Col. Leon Vance, a Medal of Honor recipient and for whom Vance
Air Force Base, Okla., is named.
The number of war dead at the cemetery masks the individual stories of heroism,
dedication and valor found with each name. As time passes and the "Greatest
Generation" continues to pass, the connection between those buried and those who visit is growing more and more distant.
To "reconnect" the visitors with the heroes laid to rest, the American Battle
Monuments Commission, to include the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial,
is undergoing a "revolution", according to David Bedford, the superintendent of
the local cemetery and an American veteran. |
The plan is for the overseas American cemeteries to become more than places of
remembrance. They will be enhancing them with interpretive centers, where
visitors can learn the stories of those who permanently reside in the grounds.
"Our culture is beginning to change because the people who felt the loss, who
knew these heroes, who felt the pains of war, are now passing on," Mr. Bedford
said. "We now need to pass on those feelings and emotions to the general public
and share what these heroes experienced. At the end of the day, we want you to
go away with something greater."
For those visiting the American Cemetery in Cambridge now, the "revolution" can
be viewed on large picture and story displays set up in the visitor's center at
the entrance to the cemetery. These displays are temporarily telling the stories
while the plans and contracts are finished up to construct a massive addition to
the building over the next few years.
Regardless of the pictures, stories and future interpretive centers, he said
every visitor since his arrival 2.5 years ago experiences something different
depending on their background.
"British visitors leave understanding what our country will give to the cause of
freedom," he said. "For the military visitors, their devotion to duty is
|As for the American public who visit, he said,
"They seem to walk away more patriotic. They find the resolve of our
Some people live half their lives on U.S. military bases and half of
their lives off, such as Karen MacKay, the British liaison officer
for the 48th Fighter Wing Legal Office. She's been to the cemetery
and said about how being at a place like that fills her with pride
and makes her feel humble.
"When you support the military for a living, you see these men and
women in uniform every day," she said. "You can read the books and
read the stories and I've even been to concentration camps, but when
you actually go out and see a place like the cemetery in Cambridge,
it really brings home what happens during war. This isn't just a
job, it makes me
A headstone marks the site of rest for one
Unknown Soldier Aug. 10, 2009 at the Cambridge American Cemetery and
Memorial in Cambridge, England. There are 24 unknown soldiers buried
here. In all, 3,812 Americans are buried in the cemetery and 5,127
are remembered on the Tablets of the Missing.
|proud, proud to support these
military personnel who are willing to lay down their lives to secure
everyone's freedoms and future."
According to Mr. Bedford, more than 45 percent of the interred, and more than 55
percent on the wall of the missing, are Air Force. |
"Airmen find the foundation of the Air Force here. This is where you came from,"
Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander in Europe during
World War II, chose the site because of the "8th Air Force's significant
contributions to the war effort," he said.
Although the future Interpretive Center is still a drawing, Mr. Bedford said
everyone should visit and experience the cemetery.
Article and photos by USAF SSgt. Nathan Gallahan
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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