The Normandy American Cemetery on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach — the one featured so powerfully in “Saving Private Ryan” — is the most well-known and most visited ABMC cemetery.
But it’s one of only 25 monuments and cemeteries in France alone, and hardly the largest, among a global network of fields honoring America’s war dead.
The ABMC manages 26 beautifully manicured cemeteries around the world, located in Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Tunisia and the United Kingdom — plus an additional 32 war monuments as far away as the Marianas Islands and New Zealand. (ABMC)
Robert Dalessandro lives by the motto: “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”
The former U.S. Army officer — a historian, author and Gulf War veteran — is the deputy secretary and leader of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). He and his team around the world are responsible for preserving the memory of more than 200,000 American men and women either killed or missing in action in wars overseas.
“I believe we have the most sacred mission of any government agency,” Dalessandro, 63, said in an interview this week with Fox News Digital.
The ABMC, headquartered in Arlington, Va., outside Washington, D.C., has been preparing this week for Memorial Day ceremonies at 26 American military cemeteries around the world, from France to the Philippines.
Fewer than 1,600 Americans, mostly from World War I, rest at the small Suresnes American Cemetery.
It stands on a hill that offers sweeping views of Paris below and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
The largest ABMC cemetery is in the Philippines, on a crest overlooking the skyline of Manila.
There rests 16,859 military dead who were killed in the Pacific in World War II. The cemetery also honors 36,286 individuals missing in action.
Dalessandro’s organization also cares for cemeteries in Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Tunisia and the United Kingdom. Each is hauntingly beautiful.
The ABMC was created in 1923, in the aftermath of the slaughter of World War I, in which 117,000 Americans were killed in just a few short months of combat.
Families whose loved ones were killed in combat were given the option of having the body repatriated to the United States, or having the remains interred, overseas, at an American military cemetery, where they [would] be cared for, in perpetuity, by the United States government.
To the surprise of many, 40% of American families chose to have their sons and daughters buried in Europe.
Gravestones throughout the network contain the remains of men and women who were never identified.
“Every day, we make sure that those cemeteries are perfectly maintained, perfectly operated and ready at any moment for visitation by anyone,” Dalessandro said.
“And we do that to honor those who rest there. It is a tremendous responsibility.
Source: Meet the American who honors the memory of 200,000 fallen war heroes | Fox News