An American War Cemetery in Mont Valerien

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Day Trip from Paris

Today, we will finish our walk around Mont Valerien outside Paris with the best of the tour’s three highlights.

A Visit to an American War Cemetery in Mont Valerien

Just before you return to the street that will lead you back down on your way to the RER station of Mont Valerien-Suresnes, you will find the entrance to the American War Cemetery of Suresnes that features the graves of 1541 American servicemen, mainly soldiers from WWI.

"A Cemetery - an American war cemetery in Mont Valerien near Paris"

People who are not touched by war cemeteries have no soul. The sacrifices that previous generations have made so that we can live in peace and prosperity acquire a name, an identity, a date of birth and a date of death.

"A memorial - an American war cemetery memorial in Mont Valerien near Paris"

Sometimes, they are also accompanied by the rudimentary elements of a story: here we have a railway engineer, a good ten years older than most of the other young men, probably with a wife and children waiting for his return; here an army chaplain or here an Italian kid who worked in the kitchen corps (probably writing home to his Mamma that she should not be worried whether he had enough to eat).

"An American war cemetery in Mont Valerien near Paris"

What makes this American memorial in Mont Valerien specifically poignant is the fact that many of these young men died when the war was already over, many of them from their war injuries, no doubt, but many also from the Spanish Flu. Back home this would have been a time of celebration, of a slow return to everyday lives perhaps, but these young men were not meant to experience the joy of victory – nor to return.

"A view of La Defence from the gardens of an American war cemetery in Mont Valerien near Paris"

The place, one of a dozen or so US War Cemeteries all over Europe, has a quiet grandeur and is magnificently tendered by the American Battle Monuments Commission. This is one foreign engagement that ALL Americans can and should see with pride.

The American War Cemetery is unusual, perhaps unique, inasmuch as it unites soldiers from different battles and theatres of war who were brought to Paris to receive treatment in one of her many hospitals.

"The Eiffel Tower seen from the gardens of an American memorial in Mont Valerien near Paris"

They are lying here, side by side, on a hillside above Paris, in some corner of a foreign field that will forever be America, overlooking a slice of European civilization that few of them, farm boys from Kansas and Missouri, will have had a chance of sampling and for whose defence they paid the ultimate price. That, too, makes this War Cemetery a specifically poignant place.

Come and visit this American war cemetery in Mont Valerien – you will be glad that you have found the time.

Find out how to get to this American war memorial in our previous post about our hike in Mont Valerien.

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7 comments to An American War Cemetery in Mont Valerien

  • Touching and beautiful. I have been to Normandy but had no idea about this one. Thank you.

  • This is so touching and thought-provoking. I didn’t know about the American war cemetery in Mont Valerien before. Thank you for the information, insights and putting into words what I feel about places like this, too.

  • What a surprising find. I would’ve never expected an American cemetary in France. I don’t know why. Possibly because our two worst stereotypes of our countries tend to clash… or the fact it’s sad to think the bodies couldn’t be buried on their own soil. It certainly is a nice monument which keeps the dignity of the soldiers and what they stood for.

  • Agree utterly. I visited one from the US Civil War and it still haunts me. I visited a few days before Memorial Day, and leaving town 48 hours later it was very moving to see that everyone of those wee markers sported an American flag, even though it was so long ago. But the most poignant ever held just 3 graves and was on a tiny island in the Outer Banks (the area known as the graveyard of the Atlantic) where 3 British sailors had washed ashore from a sunken ship in WW2 and been buried. The US coasguard maintains the tiny plot on behalf of the British War Graves Commission and it was beautiful. Later I discovered that one of the sailors came from my home town in England, which moved me all over again.

    It says something for us, amid all the chaos today, that we still remember and honor these guys.

  • Thank you for posting this. It’s a reminder of some of the reasons I joined the military: to fight for the common good. I hope we can return to days when wars were fought for freedom rather than gold or oil. Or better yet, we can stop having wars entirely and remember that we’re all in this together.

  • What a beautiful and moving post! It’s certainly a surprise to find this near Paris. I’ve visited a couple of war cemetaries here in the US but haven’t made it to ones in Europe. I will certainly keep this in mind to pay our respects. It’s heartbreaking to know that they didn’t get the chance to be buried near their hometowns and families.

  • You are so right, about not having a soul if you aren’t moved by a war cemetery. We were so moved at the cemetery outside Chania, Crete – the final resting place of so many heroes of World War II and again in visiting Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC. I really think every elected, chosen -however-they-get-there – world leader and legislator should be required to visit at least four times a year, these places. . .’lest we never forget’. Beautiful post, Michael and Marlys!

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