Among the items I cataloged today were materials related to the American Battle Monuments Commission, a government organization tasked with overseeing the maintenance and care of U.S. military cemeteries and monuments overseas. The items I cataloged were pamphlets and correspondence between the ABMC and the family of C. Donald Hayes, a Bloomington resident who died in Europe during World War II. The correspondence explains to Hayes’ family the benefits of burying the remains in Europe rather than shipping them across the Atlantic Ocean en route to Bloomington for final burial. Hayes was ultimately buried at Cambridge American Cemetery, which is located in England.
These items piqued my interest as they reminded me of my trip through Germany in 2014. On our way to France, we traveled through Luxembourg and visited the U.S. and German cemeteries located outside Luxembourg City. The American cemetery is overseen by the ABMC and among the soldiers buried there is General George S. Patton. Since we happened to visit the cemetery on June 6, 2014, the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we watched local residents lay a wreath at Patton’s grave. After returning from Germany, I wrote my final paper on the role of military cemeteries as objects of memory and reconciliation, which started a fascination with the ABMC and their work.