My parents, Patricia and Thomas Holik, visited Europe in October. Their trip sparked a lot of the military research I have done since then. It has also started a wonderful correspondence with Michael Green, the cemetery superintendent, about the stories of not only my family's men, but the ones he watches over as well. The following photographs were taken by my parents and the text was written by Patricia and posted on Trip Advisor. Reprinted with permission.
American military sites are difficult to find in Belgium as the signage is very poor and difficult to spot if there is a sign pointing the way. Armed with our trusty WWII European Sites Guidebook, we were able to find this cemetery by carefully following the directions. Upon pulling into the parking lot, we noticed that we were the only visitors. We entered the visitor's center to get some information before visiting the cemetery. The three Americans in charge greeted us warmly and asked where we were from. When we told them we were from Missouri, they were very surprised. They were impressed first that we had found the cemetery and second that this was a planned stop on our itinerary. They sadly indicated that they did not receive many visitors and offered us a private tour which we gratefully accepted.
Our first stop was the small building that housed the carillon. The superintendent, Michael Green, went inside and played the National Anthem for us. He then led us through the graves, stopping at certain ones and relating their stories of heroism during WWII. He showed us Medal of Honor Recipients,Comrades in Arms gravesites, and brothers lying side by side. Before long, the two other guides joined us and related the stories they knew about the men they had the honor to watch over.
My husband is retired Navy, and at the end of our tour and because the cemetery was closing shortly, the superintendent invited my husband to participate in the lowering of the flag ceremony. Taps were played on the carillion and it was a very emotional moment to say the least. The men left us to visit the chapel on our own and have a moment of quiet contemplation. The chapel walls are covered with battle maps done in different colors of marble. We walked back to the visitor's center and were given a folder full of information about the American Battle Monuments Commission, which came in very handy for the rest of our journey to all the other cemeteries and memorials we planned to visit.
Michael, walked us to our car and thanked us for coming and paying our respects to the men and women who rest in that beautiful place. Everyone should visit an American military cemetery in the United States or abroad, and pay their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.