The Foreign Burial of American War Dead

Where in the World?

  

One wondered: if almost 200 named Americans had been buried forgotten for 200 years in a hill in Halifax, where else in the world were American war dead still buried? The vast majority of them, of course, rested in the wonderful cemeteries of the American Battle Monuments Commission in ten nations from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. But it turned out that there were many more to find. 


The expedition begins in England, France and Libya before and after the turn of the 19th century. From there, it moves to Spain and Mexico. Then it pivots on the American Civil War and the Spanish American War before it returns to Mexico, and moves on to all of Europe, then up to Arctic Russia. It stops in prisons and prison ships, in forgotten and isolated places, and in official and unofficial cemeteries, large and small. It is accompanied by melancholy poetry and Royal music. The story’s arc traces the evolution of American attitudes and practices about its war dead from the days when a loved one lost overseas may as well have been an unreachable star in the sky, to the current era of immediate return of the loved one’s remains to a grieving family. It goes deeply, more than I expected, into the human results of war and remembrance: the seemingly endless potential of reverence for war dead, even over long measures of time, distance and hardship.



This is a reader's gem, the kind of book one finds by chance with surprises and tidbits that make turning each page an unforgettable pleasure. I found myself metering the reading to prolong the effect.


The impact is staggering for all who harbor the slightest interest in where American war dead are buried around the world-- how they died, how they were interred and who cares for their remains today.  - Charles A. Krohn. author The Lost Battalion of Tet
 

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Itinerary

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