Hingham High School
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. 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.
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.
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.
Applications are currently being accepted for World War II in the Mediterranean. Click here for more information and an application. The application deadline is midnight on Friday, September 4, 2015.