This year we are not making our usual pilgrimage to an American military cemetery for Memorial Day (the photo at left is from Flanders Field a couple of years ago). But I did get to see the next best thing, the PBS documentary Hallowed Grounds, which shows again on PBS stations in the US next Monday May 31, the official Memorial Day holiday. The film shows every American overseas cemetery, and provides context to the battles that led to the soldiers' final resting places.
Last weekend we were in Luxembourg, and if any country honors US war dead as much as their own, it is Luxembourg. Its American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) cemetery outside the capital is home to General George Patton, buried with his troops, many of whom fell during the Battle of the Bulge. Whether it's Luxembourg, France, Belgium or elsewhere, count on local citizens to adorn each American grave with the Stars and Stripes and their own national flag.
This particular Memorial Day comes at a time when Europe is remembering that 70 years ago, in May and June 1940, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France were reeling under the onslaught of the German blitzkrieg that ended the Phony War. The Maginot Line, Dunkirk, and all that.
Today, another reminder of wars past and veterans present. The highest French judicial body, the Cour Constitutionnelle, held that "colonial" veterans from places as far afield as Algeria, Morocco, and Senegal cannot be given second class status in terms of pensions. Veterans groups hailed the move as a victory for equal treatment.
To the veterans, wherever they are from, and to the fallen, wherever they lie.