Overlooking the terrain and graves of these brave men is an emotional experience. Each white marble cross or Star of David represents one brave man, who went overseas, leaving his family, girlfriend, or wife to fight fascism.
The temporary cemetery was established on September 28, 1944, with the care for the fallen soldiers mainly carried out by the 607th Grave Registration Unit under command of Captain Pearson. At the end of WW2, the cemetery counted 17,323 US soldiers, 191 Allied, and over 10,000 German graves making it the largest American cemetery in Europe.
In July 1947, the repatriation program began to reopen the temporary graves. In the first week of October, 5,600 American soldiers left Belgium soil and were repatriated to the United States at the request of their closest kin. An astonishing 30,000 Belgium citizens attended the ceremony, accompanied by representatives of the Belgium and American government. Today, 7,992 soldiers remain buried at Henri-Chapelle and 450 soldiers are registered on the Wall of Missing.
Sometimes I visit by myself and lay flowers at the graves of men who were killed in action in the region where I live. As a tour guide, I take family members with me who want to visit the grave of their grandfather, father, uncle, or brother. I also take family members to the spots where their loved ones have been fighting and to the place where they fell.
Walking by the graves, seeing the names, age, and where they came from are staggering. It was Bob Kauffman, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment/ 3rdAD veteran, who said multiple times to me, “Each grave represents a man whose family lost their son. Each grave represents a man who lost the opportunity to marry, raise a family, and to become somebody who would matter to the world. That is the reason we must never forget their sacrifice.”