Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery

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Understanding Sacrifice: An ABMC Education Project. 

Christina O’Connor

Hingham High School

Hingham, Massachusetts

Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery

Driving through the rolling hills and farmland on the route from Maastricht to Henri-Chapelle, it was hard not to compare the openness of the landscape with the tall, thick hedgerows that were so prevalent in Normandy. As we arrived at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, we passed through pillars topped with golden eagles that seemed like watchmen in the road.Christina 1 I was full of nervous anticipation, knowing that I was finally about to visit the final resting place of the fallen hero I had researched all year, and to share his story and honor his memory in front of our group. 25 more people would learn about PFC Allen before we left these grounds. We would also learn about PFC Edward Elewicz from teacher Donald Davis and PFC Richard Townsend from teacher Kamilah Williams.

We walked under the stunning bronze sculpture of the Archangel and into the cemetery where 7,992 rest and 450 missing are commemorated. Superintendent Bobby Bell shared the stories of the three Tester brothers from Tennessee buried side by side at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery. Christina 2

Their family received the dreaded telegram informing them about the loss of their son not once, but three times.  Robert was killed in North Africa, James in Germany, and Glenn in France, but they are together here. Visiting the grave of West Virginian James “Aubrey” Stewart, we learned about him and the other ten African-American soldiers of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion who escaped German capture and were given safe harbor by a local Belgian family in nearby Wareth, but were eventually discovered, tortured, and killed by members of the Waffen SS. Knowledge of this massacre was not widespread until the 1990s.

Christina 3

All of their stories – Allen’s, Elewicz’s, Townsend’s, the Testers’, and Stewart’s continue to emerge. Each of the commemorations in this cemetery tells part of someone’s life story and it is up to us to seek them out, expand them, and share them.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery

  1. Karen Griggs Jordan

    I set here with tears rolling down my cheeks reading the account of your trip to Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, my uncle, James Lawrance Griggs, from Oklahoma, is buried there. I have never gotten to go to the cemetery, but have gotten a book and picture of his grave there from the ABMC. I have not been able to find out where he was killed, Normandy or The Battle of the Bulge, since his, and my dad who was also in the Army during WWII, were destroyed in a flood in St. Louis. But I wanted you to know how very much I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into your project.
    Sincerely.
    Karen Griggs Jodan

    • Thank you for your kind words! That’s a touching story. It’s possible that someone in Europe has “adopted” your uncle’s grave. It might be worth contacting the ABMC to find out. Go to https://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/henri-chapelle-american-cemetery and see if you can find some contact information. They might be able to put you in touch with someone! But, thank you for sharing. If you know any teachers in Oklahoma that are interested in going, we’re accepting applications for next year, and maybe they could even research your uncle for their fallen hero!

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