After coffee in Sidi Bou Said, I walked into the neighboring town of Carthage in order to visit the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial.
North Africa American Cemetery Photo Essay
I’ve visited U.S. military cemeteries outside the USA including in France, Luxembourg, and Panama. These are well-manicured memorials maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) are a testament to the sacrifice of far braver men than me, particularly in World War II.
The North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage spans 27 acres and includes 2,841 graves. Mosaic maps contains details of Atlantic and Pacific campaigns, including the extensive Tunisian campaign, a series of battles between Axis and Allied forces spanning autumn 1942 to spring 1943. While Axis forces initially fared well, the Allies eventually cut off supply lines, forcing a monumental surrender that left Allied powers with 250,000 German and Italian prisoners of war.
I visited at around 4:00PM in the afternoon and had the entire cemetery to myself. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, with the occasional gentle rustling of a breeze and the sound of water running from a fountain ensconcing a tomb for the unknown solider.
The cemetery is open daily from 9:00AM to 5:00PM, except on December 25th and January 1st.
Now I’m curious to research and find where more of these overseas cemeteries are located. For all the military funerals held in the US, there are, for some reason, thousands of burials that were done overseas and I wonder what circumstances supported that decision. Are all the headstones unnamed?
Most of the graves are chiseled with the service member’s name. They get that from their dog tags and their religion, which is why you see some of the markers are the Star of David). If a deceased did not have a dog tag on the remains, it’s marked as “unknown”.
Every ABMC has an on-site former American service member as the overseer. That person will have an office at the site and they are great sources of information.
Markers of service members awarded the Medal of Honor will have the chiseled name painted with gold paint, and information on why they were awarded the honor is available at the office.
Every ABMC are kept in absolutely pristine condition (see pics above of how meticulously the grounds are maintained).
The WW I cemetery in Paris overlooks the city from a hill which is a beautiful view, and is not too far from a less visited Monet museum that can be combined with the cemetery for a fantastic “off the beaten track” afternoon in Paris.
I have visited several American cemeteries. They are always deserted.
They spaced the graves far apart. Some military cemeteries in the US space them closer and also have a second layer for the wife.
America is at its best when we send young people to die in foreign lands. I give it another 5 to 6 years before the war industry monster needs to be fed again.
Awww, butthurt that your Nazi and Commie brothers lost to the U.S. LOL
Our Commie brothers beat the Nazis together with USA
Nice review. Definitely check out Punchbowl when you head to Oahu.
Ed, The situation during times of war made it necessary for burials near the location of battles such as in Tunis, Normandy, etc. It’s hard for us to imagine a time when the world was on fire in such a way as to prevent returning our soldiers home after they gave their lives in battle. Prior to Vietnam, we didn’t have jet cargo planes or even ships that could easily transport our dead back to the USA. Some of these wars cost hundreds of thousands of lives. We saw sadness and shock at the hundreds of deaths per year in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent history so it seems out of context to imagine WW2 or WW1 where some battles saw 4,000 or 5,000 Americans killed in one short battle or like D-Day in WW2 where we lost over 2,500 soldiers in one day. Or imagine France and England in WW1 where they had some battles that saw 20,000 killed in one day in one small area. It’s really sad and hard to imagine in modern times.
I’ve visited one in Cambridge, England and Normandy, France. Both are very moving.
It seems like there were Christian and Jewish grave markers for US military service personnel buried there, but were there also any Muslim grave markers in that cemetery?
At one point during WW2, perhaps up to half of French military forces fighting against the Axis were Muslims. The US had very few Muslims at that point in US history, and US sourcing soldiers from colonies/territories just wouldn’t work out like it would with the French when it comes to religious demographics, but there may have been some US soldiers at the time who were Muslim.
I looked, but did not see any crescents.
The United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, Korea is pretty spectacular, as it serves as the burial ground for soldiers from most of the allied militaries in the Korean War. Each military has their own section with their own style of gravestones. This means you see people buried not only Christian and Jewish tradition, but also Muslim and Buddhist, among others. It’s always interesting to visit cemeteries, especially military ones that are maintained so well.
Very moving. Thank you Matthew…..