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MEMORIAL DAY IN BELGIUM: WEEKEND OF 25-30 MAY 2017

Attend the Memorial Day Ceremony at
Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery 
May 27, 2017, 4 pm

The Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery is the final resting place of 7992 soldiers and airmen. They came from 49 states, the District of Columbia, Panama, and the United Kingdom. Among the graves are 38 instances of 2 brothers lying side-by-side and one instance of 3 brothers buried side-by-side.The graves of 94 are marked with crosses that read "Here Rests in Honored Glory A Comrade in Arms Known But To God." The Colonnade through which one enters the cemetery lists the names of 450 servicemen whose bodies where never recovered.

On 12 September 1944, the US First Infantry Division liberated the site of the cemetery, and five days later the US Graves Registration Service created a cemetery there. By the end of the war, there were 17,000 Americans and 10,600 Germans buried at the site. In 1946, the bodies of the Germans were transferred to the German cemetery at Lommel. Starting in 1947, most of the bodies of the Americans were repatriated to the United States. In 1948, the site was selected as a permanent American cemetery for those whose bodies would not be repatriated.

Most of the soldiers buried in the cemetery died in the advance of the American Armed Forces into Germany in 1944-1945, particularly in the battles of the H�rtgen Forest, Aachen, and the drive to the Roer. The cemetery is the final resting place of hundreds of soldiers killed in Belgium and Holland during Operation Market Garden in September 1944, and in the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. It is also the final resting place of 420 airmen. Seven of the Wereth 11 massacre victims are buried at the cemetery, as are several victims of the Malmedy massacre, and one member of the "Band of Brothers."

The first Memorial Day Ceremony held at the cemetery were on 30 May 1945 in the presence of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Omar Bradley. Supreme Allied Commanders Europe have occasionally attended the ceremony over the years, most recently in 2009. The cemetery lies in the geographic area of three separate communities. Therefore, the mayors of Aubel, Welkenraedt, and Hombourg take turns hosting a wreath laying ceremony and a reception for invited guests after the ceremony at the cemetery.  School children from the communities surrounding the cemetery participate in the ceremony by reading a reflection in French that they compose on the subject of remembrance.

Without a doubt, the most striking aspect of the ceremony is the presence of American and Belgian veterans of the war. Although their numbers dwindle each year, they are the living testament to what the ceremonies are all about. The next most striking aspect is the "Next-of-Kin":  widows, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and especially children who never knew their fathers. The memories of the fallen live on. 

Program of the Ceremony
  • Opening of the Ceremonies
  • Recognition of Veterans, Next of Kin and Grave Adopters
  • Fly-Over by the Belgian Air Force
  • Tribute by the United States Armed Forces
  • Tribute by the Commuity of Henri-Chapelle
  • Tribute by the United States Government
  • Tribute by local school children
  • Laying of Wreaths
  • Volleys
  • Taps
  • Benediction
  • National Anthems of the United States of America and the Kingdom of Belgium