Skip to content

Memorial Day: Honoring Heroes At Home and Abroad

/ Art News - Collections

"Dodenakker (Cemetery)" (About 1978), Paul Thys (Belgian), possibly gum bichromate over platinum print. Collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art; Anonymous gift 00.235
Dodenakker Cemetery About 1978 Paul Thys Belgian possibly gum bichromate over platinum print Collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art Anonymous gift 00235

On Memorial Day, we remember those who have sacrificed themselves to defend our freedom. As we honor these brave men and women, we likely think about those buried here on American soil. This piece from our collection reminds us to pay tribute to the thousands laid to rest abroad.

In Belgium, England, France, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, more than 10,000 servicemen and women are buried in 20 American cemeteries. The American Battle Monument Commission oversees each location. The cemeteries have somewhat different features; however, at each site, the fallen are buried under white crosses, as depicted in artist Paul Thys’ piece, or Stars of David. Every grave is marked with the name, rank, unit, home state, and date of death of the hero. The cemeteries also contain larger memorials, most including a chapel, which commemorate the lives of missing men and women.

Walking through the rows, one might be struck by the diversity of these Americans, who, in spite of their different backgrounds, bonded together to defend our country. This Memorial Day, let us remember these people, many of whom were everyday citizens, and thank them for their tremendous sacrifice.