The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) stands as a solemn tribute to the courage, sacrifice, and valor of American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice on foreign soil during World War I and World War II. Established by Congress in 1923, the ABMC serves a pivotal role in honoring and commemorating the service and sacrifices of these brave individuals, ensuring their legacy endures through meticulously maintained monuments and cemeteries.
Today, when an American military service member dies on foreign soil, they are immediately transferred home. That was not the case during World War I and World War II.
During World War I, countless American lives were lost on French soil. The United States, as part of the Allied forces, deployed troops to support the war effort in Europe. Tragically, many soldiers fell in the line of duty, and in the aftermath of the war, the ABMC took on the responsibility of creating and maintaining permanent memorials to honor the fallen heroes.
The ABMC’s role expanded during World War II, as once again, American soldiers fought alongside their allies, including in France. The casualties of war necessitated the establishment of additional cemeteries and memorials to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The commission’s efforts extended beyond just creating physical tributes; it aimed to ensure that these sites became places of reverence, education, and remembrance for future generations.
In France, the ABMC manages 25 sites dedicated to American soldiers who perished in these conflicts. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, overlooking Omaha Beach, stands as one of the most iconic and revered among these sites. It serves as the burial ground for thousands of soldiers who fought in the D-Day landings and subsequent operations during World War II. Impeccably maintained, this cemetery stands as a testament to the valor and sacrifice of those who fought for freedom.
The ABMC’s commitment extends beyond maintaining physical memorials. It organizes educational programs, outreach initiatives, and ceremonies to ensure that the sacrifices of these soldiers are remembered, respected, and understood by future generations. Through these efforts, the commission fosters a deeper appreciation for the ideals these soldiers fought to uphold.
French-American Cultural Foundation President Debra Dunn had the opportunity to meet with AMBC’s Chief Operating Officer Edmund Ryan during a recent trip to Paris. AMBC is encouraging Americans to visit France in 2024 for the 80th commemoration of D-Day, called “Liberation 80.” Former French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Étienne has been named by President Emmanuel Macron to lead coordination efforts for France.
F-ACF looks forward to participating in Liberation 80 events, and we will provide updates about opportunities for Americans to attend and participate as the anniversary approaches.