Quite awhile ago, my husband wrote a piece called Forever Young to memorialize his uncle who died in World War II. Tears spring to my eyes whenever I read this piece, and I've read it many times. My husband never met the man whose name he shares, and who died many years before he was born.
Now here's something unbelievable. One of my readers -- Katie J., whose husband Mike is stationed in Germany -- emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if we would like her to take photos of Don's uncle's burial place in Ardennes American Cemetery in Liege, Belgium.
Oh my gosh, Don was thrilled! Katie's husband, Mike, is the photographer, and these shots are incredibly moving.
Each of these markers represents a life lost, a family shattered, a loved one in mourning... and a world, saved.
Here are the photos, along with some comments by Katie.
This picture shows the beautiful symmetry of the cemetery.
This statue of a youth was included at the cemetery since most of the soldiers were in the prime of their lives.
This is a picture of a picture. Mike snapped this when we were in the visitor's center. I had not been able to grasp the cross shape from my view point, so I was very glad for this aerial shot.
These pictures are the back of the Memorial.
Here is a side view of the Memorial. The kids and I are looking at the plaques that list the names of the soldiers who gave their lives yet had no remains to bury.
Here is a closer picture of those plaques.
Here is the info on CPT Darrell Lindsey. There were at least 3 Medal of Honor recipients buried at Ardennes.
Sections A and C (in the background). If you look carefully, you can see a sort of "hiccup" in the crosses where the sidewalk is between the sections. Also you can see the Jewish Stars of David on some of the markers.
Forgot to say in the aerial view, the cemetery was divided into 4 sections, A through D. The sections were divided by the walkways and laid out like this: CD AB (viewed from the "front") Your uncle's cross was in the very first row of the C section, the 28th from the right. This picture is a view of sections B & D with the flag in the back. I know it's not your uncle's section, but I thought the flag in the back was a very somber shot.
Sadly, there are far too many of these crosses. (The inscription says: Here rests in honored glory a Comrade in Arms, known but to God.)
When you walk into the memorial, the altar is the first thing you see. We said a prayer for your Uncle, as well as for all past and current soldiers.
This is the wall above the entry way.
The other three walls inside the Memorial are filled with maps. This is the wall on the right as you enter.
This is the wall on the left as you enter.
The view of the Memorial from your Uncle's marker.
View of the flag from your Uncle's marker.
I had asked Mike to take a picture of your Uncle "among the other soldiers." [Note from Patrice: this is my favorite photo.]
The enormity of lives lost is overwhelming on views like this :(
View of the Memorial from the Flag. (The caretakers were out in force on the day we visited.)
In the mists of time, it's far too easy to forget the evils that threatened our world during World War II. Belgium -- along with other European countries -- is to be commended for maintaining such a beautiful cemetery and honoring the soldiers who died in their defense. Sometimes these soldiers didn't even have remains to bury. In that respect, Don's uncle was luckier than some.
To Katie and her husband, both Don and I thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for making the time and effort to take these photos. They are magnificent. We are never likely to visit Belgium, much less Liege, so these photos will be passed around to family members on the Sowers side.
And to all the men and women who are serving our country and protecting us from the evils that still threaten our world: THANK YOU.