After two circuits around town we gave up and decided to just drive and see where we ended up -- which turned out to be smack dab in the middle of a bike race. I'm not sure which one it was -- there seem to be lots of them around these parts lately -- but we found ourselves tailing the pack right across the finish line. "Did we win?" Kate asked. No, but it was fun anyway.
Since we were near the American Military Cemetery, we thought we'd stop in for a peek. Good decision, as it turns out, since it was Memorial Day Weekend and the cemetery was festooned with flowers. In addition to the 5,000+ WWII soldiers buried there, the cemetery also contains the tomb of General Patton, also nicely decked out with flowers.
A few photos:
The weather was truly crummy but somehow seemed appropriate for a day of touring cemeteries.
The interior of the beautiful chapel on site:
Three of the four huge floral wreaths just before the path to the graves:
They were from the American Battle Monuments Commission, the American Embassy, the President of the United States (Will was so excited: "Barack Obama sent that? Cool!!"), and one I think was from Holland.
Right? That's a big "H" on the ribbon.
Here's Will in front of General Patton's tomb:
Some shots of all the headstones, each of which had an American flag, a Luxembourgish flag and a rose:
This is the headstone of a Jewish soldier:
There were little stones placed on all of the Jewish headstones, and I knew I'd seen that before but couldn't remember what it meant. So I googled it.
After finishing our tour of the American cemetery, we decided to head over to the German Military Cemetery, just a few kilometers away. This is where the German soldiers killed in WWII battles (mostly the Battle of the Bulge and other skirmishes around that time) are buried.
There are approximately 10,000 German soldiers buried here.
It was quite stark compared to the American cemetery, though perhaps it's not fair to compare the two around Memorial Day!
Each gravestone marked the burial site of FOUR German soldiers; two listed on the front:
And two on the back:
Many of the soldiers were unnamed. I think the marker above reads "Two German Soldiers."
An interesting tidbit: I was surprised by the large number of soldiers buried in these two cemeteries, especially since I know there are quite a few of these military cemeteries scattered around nearby. It made me wonder what percentage of soldiers killed in battle are interred in the country in which they are killed and how many are sent home. A sign in the American cemetery said that around 61 percent of American soldiers killed in WWII were sent home and 39 percent buried near where they fell. I wonder what the percentages would be for German soldiers?
So, the day didn't turn out as planned but was interesting just the same!