All the brave soldiers


Sitting on a bluff overlooking the English Channel near the little French town of Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy, the American Cemetery is a fitting resting place for more than 9,000 U.S. servicemen killed in the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944 and ensuing operations. The facility includes a visitors center (no admission fee) and an impressive memorial, but don't expect to find a souvenir shop; you won't need help remembering the emotional experience of visiting here. The cemetery is a beautiful, immaculately maintained 172-acre space which has been deeded in perpetuity to the U.S. by the French. Each white cross or Star of David holds the name and date of death of the soldier buried underneath, except for about 300 identified simply as comrades in arms "known but to God." The names of about 1,500 others who died but could not be located or identified are etched on a nearby wall that curves in a semi-circle around a lovely garden. And, of course, the cemetery overlooks a long, wide strip of coastline which will be forever known as Omaha Beach, a site protégé so serene today it's impossible to imagine it as a scene of carnage and inhumanity -- and heroism.