Kindergraves ceremony reminds of little ones

Terence DeLay
Contributing writer

***image1***Each year, the Saturday following Mother’s Day, the
Ramstein Area Chiefs Group and the German-American and International
Women’s Club Kaiserslautern host the Kindergraves memorial ceremony at
the Kaiserslautern cemetery. The Air Force  Junior Reserve Officer
Training Corps Color Guard leads the procession from the Daenner Chapel
to the Kindergraves where a brief memorial service is conducted at 10
a.m. May 20.  

The Kindergraves serve as a peaceful resting
place for 451 infant children of American servicemembers stationed in
Europe between 1952 and 1971. These children were cheated out of life
by untreatable childhood diseases and other complications. At the time,
transportation for a stateside burial was not available through the
U.S. government or American Red Cross.

For over three decades,
the Kindergraves were scattered throughout different areas of the
Kaiserslautern Waldfriedhof (forest cemetery).

In 1986, the
RACG and the GAIWC joined together to form the Kaiserslautern
Kindergraves Memorial Foundation. The KKMF worked with community
leaders to consolidate the graves into one centralized memorial. The
purpose of the partners was to keep the children’s memories alive by
creating an eternal resting place undisturbed over time and to preserve
the archives for future generations. The Chief’s Group volunteered as
the official agent in leasing the land where the “U.S. Forces’ Kinder”
monument now stands.

While the Kindergraves look as if they
receive tender loving care from their families, most of the families
returned to America many decades ago.

The care and upkeep of
the site is performed by volunteers supporting the KKMF. Volunteers
from across the KMC help cut grass, rake leaves, clean grave markers
and tend to the flowers year round. Private donations fund the
maintenance activities.  

This year, Tony Ayala from the
United States will join the ceremony. He and his family visited Germany
in April 2005 to search out the resting place of Tony’s younger sister

Lourdes Ayala was born Aug. 4, 1957, in Verdun,
France and died March 24, 1958 at the Landstuhl U.S. Army
hospital.  She had become ill with a contagious disease and
despite receiving excellent medical care, could not be saved.
The ceremony is open to the public.  

the official ceremony, coffee and cake will be served in Daenner
Chapel, which is located on Daenner Kaserne, route B-37 (Mannheimer
Strasse), across the street from Kleber Kaserne.
For more
information regarding the memorial or the history of the Kaiserslautern
Kindergraves Memorial Foundation contact Terence DeLay at