Veterans Day holds a very special place in the heart of my family as my father and uncle both served and sacrificed for our country in WWII.
My father served in the European African Middle Eastern Theatre in early 1945. He was hit by shrapnel as he led a group into a battle and spent 5 months in a military hospital in England before being honorably discharged. He was awarded a bronze star and purple heart for his sacrifice.
This picture taken at my father’s funeral service is so precious to me. Daddy rarely talked about his time in the war and certainly would not have wanted this recognition, but he and the other men who have served deserve the honor that is bestowed gravesite.
Did you know that similar remembrance services take place at U.S. Service Cemeteries around the world? My Uncle Ansel (my mother’s brother) was killed in WWII and is buried at Epinal, France.
In the last few years, my sister has met a couple who oversee that soldier cemetery at Epinal and they keep us informed of those events. It is so heartwarming to know that all of the soldiers buried there are still remembered and recognized for the sacrifice they made.
Following is an excerpt from the report we received this past May:
“Extreme weather this 08/05/2019 but the ceremony that we(US MEMORY) organized at the American cemetery for the 75th anniversary of the two landings of 1944 (Normandy and Provence) was magnificent and took place in the presence of a large audience and civil and military personalities(Colonel Air Base Commander, several colonels from the 45th American Division who came as a delegation from Oklahoma, American Admiral from Washington, the French Mayors of Communes, etc…). All the pictures of boys in our possession were shown at the graves, A V of victory was presented on the central lawn made of artificial poppies planted by us and made by residents of retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, individuals, Felt and wire rod. The flags of all the American states were deployed by members of the US MEMORY, hymns and other musical pieces were played by a fanfare of a nearby regiment of tirailleurs, as well as by a group of Celtic-Pipers, school children sang in English, poems of soldiers were read and I had myself, after making the V layout, realized an exhibition in the chapel of the Mausoleum, on the Native American tribes represented among the graves of the cemetery.”
Throughout the year, Uncle Ansel’s cross is decorated; you can even see the picture that was posted so that visitors can put a face with the name.
It’s on my bucket list to visit Epinal and Uncle Ansel’s grave in person some day. I can’t imagine the emotions you would feel standing amidst all of these 5,200 men and women who sacrificed for our freedom.