Memorial Day in Belgium

We said good-bye to Charlemagne and piled into my friend Dan’s Volvo and headed west out of Aachen to Belgium and the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial. It was Saturday, May 26, 2012 and Memorial Day in Belgium. As American citizens living in Belgium, Dan and Kate are invited every year to attend the Memorial Day services. This year my wife and I  were their guests.

The Henri-Chapelle American cemetery is 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Aachen, also 10 miles east of Liege, Belgium and also 10 miles southeast of Maastricht, Netherlands. Our drive from Aachen was less than 20 minutes.

Looking west from Henri-Chapelle to H and the B Valley.

Looking west from Henri-Chapelle to Herve and the Berwinne Valley.

Entrance to the cemetery.

Entrance to the cemetery.

IMG_2444-1There are about 8,000 members of the American military buried at Henri-Chapelle. Most of them died either during the push eastwards of the 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) toward Aachen in September 1944 or in the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to February 1945. At one time there were more than 20,000 people buried here but many bodies were re-interred over the years beginning in 1947 and reburied back in the US.

The people of Belgium show their gratitude to the US for liberating them in 1944 by honoring those who died on Belgian soil during World War II. There are two other cemeteries nearby — one in Bastogne to the south near Luxembourg and one near Maastricht, Netherlands.

The Angel of Peace was made by x in x.

The Angel of Peace was made by Donal Hord in 1956.

IMG_2380-1IMG_2382-1IMG_2385-1IMG_2386-1Our friend Kate McNally and her friends Marcel and Mathilde Schmetz who own and manage the Remember Museum 2 km west of Henri-Chapelle.

Our friend Kate McNally and her friends Marcel and Mathilde Schmetz who own and manage the Remember Museum 2 km west of Henri-Chapelle.

IMG_2391-1IMG_2393-1That's me on the right with two US soldiers stationed nearby. The guy on the left was making a documentary on Henri-Chapelle.

That’s me on the right with two US soldiers stationed nearby. The guy on the left was making a documentary on Henri-Chapelle.
Two Belgian Air Force planes passed overhead at the conclusion of Taps.

Two Belgian Air Force planes passed overhead at the conclusion of Taps.

IMG_2420-1IMG_2426-1These Red Knights sat next to us during the ceremony.

These Red Knights sat next to us during the ceremony.

IMG_2428-1IMG_2429-1IMG_2430-1Known but to God.

Known but to God.

IMG_2433-1Dan Flynn and his wife Kate McNally. Dan is an old friend from high school who now lives in Verviers and takes the train twice a week to Brussels to teach English to members of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).

Dan Flynn and his wife Kate McNally. Dan is an old friend from high school who now lives in Verviers and takes the train twice a week to Brussels to teach English to members of Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).
Granite map in Visitor Center showing Allied operations across France, Netherlands and Belgium and into Germany in 1944-45.

Granite map in Visitor Center showing Allied operations across France, Netherlands and Belgium and into Germany in 1944-45.

One last view of the Berwinne valley as we leave the cemetery.

One last view of the Berwinne valley as we leave the cemetery.

Click here for more information on Henri-Chapelle and other American cemeteries in Europe. Click here (the website is a pdf file which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) and here for more information on the First Infantry Division who fought at the Battle of Hurtgen Forest and the Siege of Aachen.

On Sunday we traveled to Nivelles to meet up with another high school classmate, which will be the subject of my next posting.

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About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
This entry was posted in Belgium, History, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Memorial Day in Belgium

  1. Watchoot says:

    I enjoyed your post, so important that we never forget the sacrifice of the people laid to rest there.

  2. gpcox says:

    Someone just asked me yesterday about the soldiers killed overseas, their burials, etc. I told them how well the cemeteries were kept around the world and here is more proof that I can show them, thanks.

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