Sunday, July 17, 2011
American Cemetery in Tunisia North Africa
NORTH AFRICA AMERICAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL
Less than 200 miles west along the Coast Road from Tripoli is the North African American Cemetery in Tunisia.
GPS Coordinates: N36 51.918 E10 19.876
Here lies the remains of thousands of America servicemen who were killed in action in the invasion of North Africa, at Casablanca and against Rommel's Africa Corps.
According to the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC):
The North Africa American Cemetery is located in close proximity to the site of the ancient city of Carthage, Tunisia, destroyed by the Romans in 146 B.C., and lies over part of the site of Roman Carthage. It is near the present town of the same name, 10 miles from the city of Tunis and 5 miles from its airport.
At the 27-acre North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Tunisia rest 2,841 of our military dead, their headstones set in straight lines subdivided into 9 rectangular plots by wide paths, with decorative pools at their intersections. Along the southeast edge of the burial area, bordering the tree-lined terrace leading to the memorial is the Wall of the Missing. On this wall 3,724 names are engraved. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. Most honored here lost their lives in World War II in military activities ranging from North Africa to the Persian Gulf.
The chapel and the memorial court, which contains large maps in mosaic and ceramic depicting the operations and supply activities of American forces across Africa to the Persian Gulf, were designed to harmonize with local architecture. The chapel interior is decorated with polished marble, flags and sculpture.
Following World War I and II, the interment of the remains of war dead was carried out by the American Graves Registration Service, Quartermaster General of the War Department. At that time, the next of kin authorized to make the decision regarding their loved one’s interment was given the option of having the remains returned to the U.S. for permanent interment at a national or private cemetery, or permanently interred at the overseas American military cemetery in the region where the death occurred.
After each World War, the next of kin of Americans who were killed overseas were given the choice of what to do with the remains of their loved ones. The remains could be repatriated for burial in a cemetery in the U.S., they could be buried in a permanent ABMC cemetery overseas, or they could remain where they lay. While about 61 percent of the remains were returned to the U.S. and 39 percent were buried in ABMC cemeteries, several hundred families chose not to disturb the remains. These isolated graves can be found in town cemeteries, the war cemeteries of our allies, or even in the fields where they fell throughout Europe.
Recognizing the need for a federal agency to be responsible for honoring American armed forces where they have served and for controlling the construction of military monuments and markers on foreign soil by others, Congress enacted legislation in 1923 establishing the American Battle Monuments Commission.
In performing its functions, the Commission administers, operates and maintains on foreign soil 24 permanent American burial grounds, and 25 separate memorials, monuments and markers, including three memorials in the United States. Presently there are 124,909 American war dead interred in these cemeteries, of which 30,921 are from World War I, 93,238 are from World War II and 750 from the Mexican War. Additionally, 6,177 American veterans and others are interred at the Mexico City National Cemetery and the Corozal American Cemetery...
Kelly NOTES: So the American Battle Monuments Commission is responsible for the maintenance of the graves of American military personnel killed in combat overseas including those killed in Mexico, as honored in the US Marine hymn, "From the Halls of Montezuma," but they aren't responsible for those Navy men killed "on the Shores of Tripoli." They were left to the dogs, buried in a mass grave at what is now a parking lot at Green Square, and then five of them were reburied in marked graves at Old Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli.
Max Cleland is the Secretary of the ABMC
Max Cleland has served his country for nearly 50 years. After graduating from Stetson University in 1964, where he was commissioned in the United States Army, Mr. Cleland obtained a master's degree in American History from Emory University in Atlanta. He went on active duty in the fall of 1965. He volunteered for Vietnam in 1967. Rising to the rank of captain, Mr. Cleland was wounded in combat and after a year-and-a- half in military and VA Hospitals, he returned to his home state of Georgia. Elected to the State Senate in 1970, where he served two terms, Mr. Cleland was appointed head of the Veteran's Administration under President Carter in 1977. In 1981, he returned to Georgia and was elected first as Secretary of State and then as United States Senator.