“…and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in…

The above excerpt from a statement by Colin Powell, then Secretary of State.

And it is true. The American Battlefield Monuments Commission was established in 1923.

Recognizing the need for a federal agency to be responsible for honoring American armed forces where they have served, and for controlling the construction of military monuments and markers on foreign soil by others, Congress enacted legislation in 1923 establishing ABMC.

In performing its functions, ABMC administers, operates and maintains on foreign soil 25 permanent American burial grounds, and 26 separate memorials, monuments and markers, including three memorials in the United States. Presently there are 124,908 American war dead interred in these cemeteries, of which 30,922 are from World War I, 93,236 are from World War II and 750 are from the Mexican War. Additionally, 6,237 American veterans and others are interred at the Mexico City National Cemetery and the Corozal American Cemetery in Panama. Commemorated individually by name on stone tablets are 94,135 American servicemen and women who were missing in action, or lost or buried at sea in their regions during World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The best known cemetery is almost certainly The Normandy American Cemetery, seen by millions in the opening and  closing scenes of Saving Private Ryan.

A view of Normandy American Cemetery from the memorial area.

It is one of 25 overseas burial grounds maintained by the ABMC. There are in addition 26 permanent memorials overseas under the aegis of ABMC. One such memorial is at Cabanatuan, Philippines.

Inscription on the Cabanatuan American Memorial reads: "Site of Japanese Prisoner of War Camp 1942 to 1945. This memorial honors the American servicemen and the civilians who died here..."

I find it interesting that so many families chose to have their loved one rest eternally on the soil of a nation they fought to free. For many, it seems fitting and right. But there are no cemeteries in Korea, nor Vietnam. No Americans will rest eternally in the sands of Iraq, or in the valleys of Afghanistan. I don’t know what to think of that.


Filed under history

4 responses to ““…and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in…

  1. virgil xenophon

    Yes you do. It is A DEMONSTRATED FACT that these people we sacrificed our lives four are tribal to the core and therefore UTTERLY ungrateful for whatever sacrifice our “best and brightest” may have made on their behalf… American families are only acknowledging


  2. Esli

    No way would HH6 have let me stay in Iraq.

    By the way, Powell’s quote, in full context, is awesome.


    • I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fan of Powell, but yes, his entire response to the former Archbishop was well spoken.


  3. Veritas

    Better to allow Americans to rest in soil where their sacrifice will be honored and respected. In uncivilized areas like the Arab and Islamic world there will never be respect for infidels.