Normandy American Cemetery (Colleville sur Mer)
This cemetery, 172.5 acres
in extent, is one of fouteen permanent American World War II cemeteries
constructed on foreign soil. Free use as a permanent burial ground
was granted by the government of France in perpetuity without charge
General Layout. The cemetery is rectangular in shape.
Its main paths are laid out in the form of a Latin cross. Inside, beyond the Visitor's Building, filling most of the eastern
end of the cemetery is a beautiful semi circular memorial with a memorial
garden and Tablets of the Missing to its rear. Facing West, the memorial
overlooks a large reflecting pool, two flagpoles, from which the American
flag flies daily, the graves areas and the chapel.
The Memorial consists of a semi circular colonnade
with a loggia housing battle maps at each end and a large bronze
sculpture in the open are formed by its arc. The loggias and colonnade
are of a limestone from the Côte d'Or region of France, the
plinths and steps are of granite from Brittany.
Centered in the open arc of the memorial facing toward the graves
is a 22 foot bronze statue, "The Spirit of American Youth Rising
from the Waves". Insert in the floor directly behind the statue
are two curved garden plots.
On the interior walls of the loggias are maps engraved in stone
and embellished with colored enamels. These maps are entitled : "The Landings
on the Normandy Beaches and the Development of the Beachhead",
"Air Operations over Normandy March - August 1944", "6
June 1944 the Amphibious Assault Landings", and "Military
Operations in Western Europe, 6 June 1944 - 8 May 1945".
Insert in a rectangular aperture in the East and West walls of each
loggia is a large bronze urn on which are sculptured two different
scenes in high relief. While the scenes are the same in both loggias,
their emplacement is such that the scenes facing into the loggias
The chapel in the graves
area is constructed of Vaurion limestone. On entering the chapel,
one's attention is drawn immediately to the altar of black and gold
Pyrenees Grand Antique marble and the inscription : "I GIVE UNTO
THE ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH", engraved across
its front. Behind the altar, a tall window with a translucent amber
coating illuminates is with a soft yellow light.
The colorful mosaic ceiling symbolizes America blessing her sons as
they depart by sea and air to fight for freedom, and a grateful France
bestowing a laurel wreath upon American Dead who gave their lives
to liberate Europe's oppressed peoples.
The Garden of the Missing is located
behind the memorial structure. Its semi circular wall, contains
the names ans particulars engraved on stone tables of the 1,557
Missing in the region who gave their lives in the service of their
country but whose remains have not been recovered or positively
identified. An asterisk identified those subsequently recovered
or identified. Included among these are twin brothers. They came
from 49 of the 50 States of the Union, the District of Columbia
and Guam. The tablets are separated on the wall by large sculptured
The graves area contains ten grave
plots, five on each side of the main mall. Interred within them are the remains
of 9,387servicemen and women. Three hundred and seven of which are
Unknowns ( whose remain could not be identified ), three Medal of
Honor recipients, and four women. A Star of David marks the grave
of those of the Jewish faith, a Latin cross all others. The precisely
aligned headstones against the immaculately maintained emerald green
lawn convey an unforgettable feeling of peace and serenity.
The plantings. The cemetery is surrounded on the
East, South and West by heavy masses of Austrian pine, interplanted
with Laurel, Cypress and Holly oak. The lawn areas of the Garden
of the Missing are bordered with beds of polyantha roses, while
Elm trees grow in the lawn areas.
The architects for the cemetery's memorial features were Harbeson,
Hough, Livingston & Larson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The
bronze urns as well as the bronze statue are the work of Donald
De Lue of Leonardo, New Jersey. The landscape architect was Markley
Stevenson, also of Philadelphia.
The dedication ceremony was held on 18 July 1956.
Normandy American Cemetery
" Omaha Beach "
14710 Colleville sur Mer - France
TEL : +33 (0)2 31 51 62 00
FAX : +33 (0)2 31 51 62 09
e-mail : Normandy.Cemetery@abmc-er.org
website : http://www.abmc.gov