The path leads down to the Northwest Arm of the harbour at Halifax, Nova Scotia. The earth beneath - Deadman's Island - holds the commingled bones of perhaps 200 American soldiers and sailors of the War of 1812. I came to their resting place while traveling to Canada on the trail of a US Navy frigate that had been lost to the British, although its captain had ordered his men "Don't Give up the Ship!"
From Halifax, I traveled on to England where I found the given-up ship still very much alive in the form of a watermill in Wickham, Hampshire County. The Book
The American dead of Deadman's Island had been virtually forgotten since the war in which they died. They would not be named, remembered, and memorialized by the Canadian and American governments until 2000.
I wondered: Where else in the world had American war dead been buried and forgotten? The answer took me back to Canada and England, then on to France, Belgium and the Netherlands. And my paper research extended from Libya in 1804 to the furthest reaches of Asia two centuries later. The Book
Almost 4,000 of American war dead buried abroad and outside of the cemeteries of the American Battle Monuments Commission had fought with the forces of other nations. Most of those had been Americans who had traveled to Canada and England in advance of their own country’s entrance into each of the world wars.
Returning to Europe, I was able to name and locate approximately 4,000 American and American related buried around the world. I wondered who they were and why they had fought with the forces of other nations. The Book
Among the most celebrated and least understood of the Americans in Foreign Forces, the war poet Alan Seeger had joined the French Foreign Legion in 1914, fought an increasingly mechanical war with the values of a Medieval knight, and died in the Battle of the Somme on July 4, 1916 – a Hero of France.
His life had taken him from the ferry stop at Staten Island to the “Deserted Garden” of Mexico and on to Tarrytown and Harvard, then to Paris. I was able to look from the window of his spare room overlooking the spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral, and to follow the magnificent walk through the last year of his life as he fought for the villages of northern France.
The view on the home page is from the ossuary of the Nécropole Nationale de Lihons, 2 km west of that village in the Somme, the burial place of Alan Seeger. The Book
The Foreign Burial of American War Dead had taken me to the Limburg province of the Netherlands. There I met Dutch author Mieke Kirkels as she was developing her work focusing on the role of African American soldiers in the liberation of Limburg at the end of World War II. I joined with her to write an expanded American version of her Dutch book, Kinderen van zwarte bevrijders, about the now adult biracial children they had, unhappily or unknowingly, left behind. The Book.