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Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

The World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is situated on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel in Colleville-sur Mer, France. It is just east of St. Laurent-sur-Mer and northwest of Bayeux about one hundred and seventy miles west of Paris. The cemetery may be reached from Paris by automobile via Highway A-13 to Caen, then Highway N-13 through Bayeux to Formigny, then following D-517 to St. Laurent-sur-Mer and D-514 to Colleville-sur-Mer. A large stone directional sign designates the cemetery entrance. There is regular rail service between Paris (Gare St. Lazare) and Bayeux, where taxicabs and tour bus service are available. Travel by rail takes three hours. Hotels are available in Bayeux and Port-en-Bessin.

The cemetery is located on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The cemetery is at the north end of its one half mile access road and covers one hundred and seventy-two acres. It contains the graves of 9,387 American military Dead, most of whom gave their lives during the landings and ensuing operations of World War II.

On the walls of the semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial are inscribed the names of 1,557 American Missing who gave their lives in the service of their country, but whose remains were not located or identified. The memorial consists of a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing maps and narratives of the military operations. At the center is a bronze statue titled, "Spirit of American Youth." An orientation table overlooks the beach and depicts the landings at Normandy. Facing west at the memorial, one sees in the foreground the reflecting pool, the mall with burial areas to either side and the circular chapel beyond. Behind the chapel are statues representing the United States and France.

The cemetery contains one World War I-grave, of Quintin Roosevelt, son of U.S. President Theodore Rooseveld, who was killed on 14 July 1918. The grave is located next to the grave of his brother Theodore Roosevelt JR.

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  • Text: American Battle Monuments Commission & Don van den Bogert
  • Photos: STIWOT (1), Jeroen Koppes (2, 3, 4, 5)

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