Remembering Those Who Have Fallen

In a presidential proclamation on May 26, 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson declared it a day to “honor the memory of brave men who have borne our colors in war,” and in 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday.
As Americans take the day to honor the fallen, we should also pause to remember those who died in foreign lands — far from U.S. soil but right at the heart of the holiday.
The exact number of American Veterans buried on foreign soil is hard to pin down. The American Battle Monuments Commission has tried to keep a tally. They created and maintain 25 in 10 foreign countries, including France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Panama, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, and Tunisia. The number of soldiers buried in those cemeteries is approximately 130,000.
There are thousands of American military graves lying forgotten and lost abroad. Why? For one, there isn’t a single organization that tracks the burials. There is no database of every American service member buried overseas. And the reason why there is no database is because finding all of America’s war dead is a complicated process.
While some are buried in formal memorial cemeteries, others are in private cemeteries, mass graves and isolated burial sites. Old records have been lost and new burials are being discovered. Women were not always counted among the war dead. Thousands of Americans fought under foreign flags before the U.S. entered the world wars, and are buried as foreigners. Those missing in action or lost at sea further complicate tracking. And some have just been lost.
But one historian has been painstakingly counting, cataloging and mapping the locations of American war dead buried outside formal memorial cemeteries. Read More.

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