LORRAINE CEMETERY, Saint Avold, France — Military and civilian officials commemorated fallen service members in a solemn Memorial Day ceremony May 28.
Delegates from the U.S., France, and other allied nations attended the annual tradition at Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial.
The occasion included wreath layings, the formal presentation of colors, remarks from officials, and a flyover conducted by the 37th Airlift Squadron.
Containing 10,489 graves, Lorraine stands as the largest American World War II cemetery in Europe. The area surrounding Saint Avold was a major battle ground in the war, with the town itself serving as a communications hub for enemy forces. U.S. and allied troops liberated the area in 1944.
This year’s ceremony was especially notable, because it marked 100 years since the U.S. entered the First World War.
“Throughout the course of U.S. history, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have given their lives in defense of the Nation,” said Brig. Gen. Richard G. Moore, Jr., commander of Ramstein’s 86th Airlift Wing. “On Memorial Day, we reflect upon their selfless service and pay homage to their ultimate sacrifice. We are reminded that we owe a debt to be paid, with grateful remembrance for their sacrifice, and with the strong resolve that their cause will live.”
The flyover by a C-130J from Ramstein was especially meaningful, as it demonstrates the commitment we hold dear today, Moore added. The 37 AS’ Airmen have partnered to move 1,500 French forces and hundreds of thousands of kilograms of cargo to assist in the fight against violent militants in North and West Africa in the past few months alone.
Véronique Bour-Mas, representing the city of Saint Avold, said it was an honor to celebrate the legacy of the fallen among so many who understand that freedom has a cost.
“Today belongs to our brothers and sisters, who came a long way to defend our way of life,” said Bour-Mas. “The men and women we honor came from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty, and integrity… all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than themselves.”