Cemetery of the Week #157: Normandy American Cemetery

American_military_cemetery_2003Normandy American Cemetery
Also known as the Omaha Beach Cemetery and Cimetière Américain de Normandie
14710, Colleville-sur-Mer, France
Dedicated: 1956
Size: 172.5 acres (70 hectares)
Number of interments: 9387
Open: Except on December 25 and January 1, the cemetery is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm from April 15 to September 15, and from 9 am to 5 pm the rest of the year. Admission closes 15 minutes before closing time. The cemetery is open on holidays in France. When it is open, staff members in the visitor center can answer questions or escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.

The most-visited American military cemetery outside the US stands above a stretch of beach south of the English Channel on the northern coast of France. More than 9,000 men and four women are buried in the Normandy American Cemetery under row upon row of white crosses and Stars of David.

On June 6, 1944 — D-Day — American soldiers joined Allied Forces for the liberation of France.  2499 Americans fell before the Allies chased the Germans from heavily fortified Omaha Beach.

Two days after the landing, the American dead were buried temporarily in the first American cemetery to be established in Europe in World War II.  Called St. Laurent-sur-Mer, the cemetery was a holding place for servicemen until their families could be contacted. Next-of-kin could request repatriation or permanent burial in France. Nearly 60% of the fallen were sent home, while the rest were interred on land donated by France in gratitude for America’s sacrifice.

normandy postcardA half-mile-long access road leads to the Normandy American Cemetery, which covers 172.5 acres on the headlands above the D-Day beaches. The cemetery is the largest US World War II graveyard overseas.  Buried there are 9383 men and four women, victims of various battles. 33 pairs of brothers lie side by side. The graves are aligned on a vast green lawn divided by paths.

A $30 million visitor center was dedicated by the American Battle Monuments Commission in 2007, on the 63rd anniversary of D-Day. The visitor center, which serves as the entrance to the cemetery, welcomes approximately a million people each year.

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Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

At the heart of the cemetery rises a 22-foot-high bronze nude called “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves,” sculpted by Donald Harcourt De Lue and cast in Italy. The statue is surrounded by gold letters that proclaim, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord.” Behind it stands a semi-circular limestone colonnade that says, “This embattled shore, portal of freedom, is forever hallowed.” At each end of the colonnade is a loggia which displays maps of the Battle of Normandy. The loggias are engraved, “In proud remembrance of the achievements of her sons and in humble tribute to their sacrifices, this memorial has been erected by the United States of America.”

A semicircular garden on the east holds the Walls of the Missing. Its dedication reads: “Here are recorded the names of Americans who gave their lives in the service of their country and who sleep in unknown graves. This is their memorial. The whole Earth their sepulcher. Comrades in Arms whose Resting Place is Known Only to God.” Of the 1557 names listed, some are now marked with rosettes because they have since been discovered and identified.

Two of President Theodore Roosevelt’s sons lie here. Theodore Jr. was the president’s eldest son. He fought in both world wars and received the Medal of Honor. In WWII, he served as a general. He was one of the first Americans to come ashore in France. He landed at Utah Beach, two kilometers farther south than they’d planned, but he encouraged his men by saying, “We’ll start the war from right here!” A month after the landing, he died of a heart condition.

His brother Quentin had died in aerial combat during World War I. He had been buried in Chamery Cemetery in the Marne region of France, but he was brought here to lie beside his brother.

The pathway from the cemetery down to the beach was closed in April 2016, due to security concerns.  A viewing platform overlooks the battlefield, now a peaceful sandy beach that stretches as far as one can see.

Normandy American Cemetery is the largest overseas World War II graveyard, but the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery from World War I contains the remains of 14,000 Americans.

This clip from Saving Private Ryan was filmed in the Normandy American Cemetery:

Useful links:

American Battle Monuments Commission page for the Normandy American Cemetery

Directions to Omaha Beach

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Other American military cemeteries on Cemetery Travel:

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery, Mackinac Island, Michigan

San Francisco National Cemetery, San Francisco, California

Mare Island Cemetery, Vallejo, California

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Cemetery of the Week #156: Glenwood Cemetery

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Red granite obelisk and Whiting’s white granite temple at Glenwood Cemetery, Flint

Glenwood Cemetery
2500 W. Court Street
Flint, Michigan 48503
Telephone: (586) 677-5400
Founded: 1857
Size: 47 acres
Number of interments: no public number available

IMG_8357Jacob Smith, the man credited with founding the Michigan city of Flint, is buried in lovely Glenwood Cemetery with his descendants. The first white settler at the Grand Traverse of the Flint River, Smith was such good friends with the local Native American chief that the men considered themselves brothers. The chief gave Smith the name Wah-be-seens or White Swan, which appears on the back of Smith’s gravestone. Smith had originally been buried behind his trading post near what is now Water Street in Flint. He died in 1825.

Founded in 1857, two years after Flint became a city, Glenwood is one of the few early cemeteries in Michigan laid out in the rural style popularized by Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts. Its winding roads are shaded by tall oaks, maples, and pines. In fact, the cemetery is an arboretum with nearly 1,000 trees. The 56 species are predominantly natives, but include a very rare Chinese Yellowhorn tree and a huge, gnarled catalpa tree that predates the cemetery itself. Each of the trees is identified and you can pick up a free map to them outside the cemetery office.

Over all, lovely Glenwood makes the most of hilly terrain above the south bank of the Flint River. Its 47 acres includes two heavily wooded ravines, which shelter deer and other wildlife. The day I visited, it was filled with birdsong and butterflies.

The original 41 acres of the cemetery were purchased in March 1857. In addition to Jacob Smith, buried there are families who built the agricultural, lumbering, industrial, and automotive businesses in the area.

At Glenwood are buried 38 Flint city mayors, two Michigan state governors (Josiah Begole and Henry H. Crapo), Flint’s only lieutenant governor, and other politicians and diplomats, including Fenton McCreery, who served in Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras, before joining the Paris office of the American Commission during World War I.

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The Mott mausoleum stands on an island at the crest of the cemetery.

Also buried here are the men who founded the automobile industry in Flint. J. Dallas Dort headed up the largest carriage manufacturer in the world, before investing in Buick, General Motors, and Chevrolet. In 1905, Dort persuaded Charles Stewart Mott to bring his Westen-Mott Company to Flint to build wheels and axels for Buick Motor Company. General Motors eventually bought the company and Mott served as a GM director for over 60 years, as well as acting as executive vice president and chief of staff. His philanthropic foundation continues to fund educational and environmental projects around the world, as well as offering support for the arts.

After serving in the Civil War, James Whiting came to Flint. Eventually, he oversaw Flint Wagon Works, which built 50,000 vehicles a year. He and his associates bought the Buick Motor Company in 1903 and moved it from Detroit to Flint. An auditorium thatWhiting funded in Flint’s Civic Center bears his name and continues to welcome traveling theater and music.

Arthur Giles Bishop worked his way up from teller to president of the Genesee County Savings Bank, before serving on the Board of Directors for General Motors and Chevrolet. He donated land for the city’s airport in 1928.

In addition to the local bigwigs, common people are also buried in Glenwood. Orphans from the Michigan School for the Deaf had been buried in an unmarked graves during an epidemic in the 1880s. A researcher located their grave in 2014 and it is now marked with an obelisk. Several soldiers and generals from the Revolutionary War were transferred here to lie with their families.

IMG_8361In 1901, seven more acres were added on the eastern side of Glenwood Cemetery. That space, with its own separate entrance, is dominated by a neoclassical mausoleum that opened in 1914.

The cemetery was added to the State Register of Historic Places in January 1988. A walking tour map is available at the office for free.

Useful links:
Glenwood Cemetery’s homepage

Notable burials at Glenwood

Marking the grave of the orphans from the School of the Deaf

A Place of Peace

The change of management at Glenwood

Other Michigan cemeteries of Cemetery Travel:

Sunset Hills, Flint

Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek

White Chapel Memorial Park, Troy

Lakeside Cemetery, Colon

Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery, Mackinac Island

Detroit Cemeteries on Cemetery Travel:

Elmwood Cemetery

Woodlawn Cemetery

Woodmere Cemetery

 

 

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Wish You Were Here at Barnes & Noble

WYWHere - CoverThis coming Saturday afternoon — July 29 from 1 pm to 4 — I’ll be signing the updated new edition of Wish You Were Here in Flint, Michigan.

Even if you’re not into casually visiting cemeteries, come support my favorite Barnes & Noble and say hi. I would love to see you.

 If you can’t make it during the signing, you can call Barnes & Noble and ask them to reserve a book for you. I can sign it on Saturday while I’m there. Their phone number is (810) 732-0704.

Almost every tourist destination has a graveyard: Yosemite National Park, Mackinac Island, London, Manhattan, Tokyo, Prague… Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery ranks in the top five tourist sites of Paris. Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel contains 35 graveyard travel essays, which visit more than 50 cemeteries, churchyards, and gravesites across the globe.

“Loren Rhoads started visiting cemeteries by accident. It was the start of a love affair with cemeteries that continues to this day. In Wish You Were Here, Rhoads blends history with storytelling and her photos accompany each essay.”—American Cemetery magazine

When: Saturday, July 29 at 1 pm

Where:  Barnes & Noble Flint, Genesee Valley Mall, 4370 Miller Rd, Flint, Michigan 48507

What: The store’s events listing for Meet Loren Rhoads

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Cemetery of the Week #155: Waine’e Church Cemetery

Wainee 2Waine’e Church Cemetery
Near Waiola Church
535 Waine’e Street
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 96761
Founded: 1823
Size: an acre or so
Number of interments: approximately 200 marked

Waine’e (Moving Water) Churchyard, established in 1823, was the first Christian cemetery in the Hawaiian islands. In it, native Hawaiians and missionaries are buried side by side.

Hawaiians consider Waine’e Churchyard sacred ground because Queen Keopuolani (Gathering of the Clouds of Heaven), the highest royalty in all Hawaii by virtue of her bloodlines, is buried there. In addition to her heritage, Keopuolani was a wife of King Kamehameha the Great and mother of Kamehameha II and III. As the first native aristocrat to be baptized a Christian, Keopuolani wielded enormous influence in the spread of Protestantism. She was baptized by request an hour before her death on September 16, 1823.

Kamehameha’s favorite wife, Queen Ka’ahumanu, is aslo here. King Kaumualii, last king of Kauai, rests here, along with High Chief Hoapili, who married two of Kamehameha’s wives after the king’s death; his wife Hoapili Wahine, governor of Maui; Kekauonohi, one of five wives of Kamehameha II and governor of Kauai in her own right; and High Chiefess Kuini Liliha, who led a rebellion of a thousand soldiers against the Western government on Oahu in 1830. Pioneer missionary Reverend William Richards is also buried here.

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Kahale M. Kahiamoe’s grave

Also in the churchyard stands the oldest Christian gravestone in the Hawaiian Islands, remembering a Maui islander who died of “fever” in 1829. Nearby, a simple tablet stone commemorates Kahale M. Kahiamoe, who lived from 1804 to 1908, 104 years, long enough to see the invasion of the outside world, the end of the kapus and the Hawaiian monarchy, and the establishment of Hawaii as a US territory in 1900. Shell leis draped the rusted iron fence enclosing his grave.

The Waine’e Church itself no longer stands. Completed in 1832, it was the first stone church in the islands and served as the church of the Hawaiian royalty when Lahaina was the capital of the kingdom through the mid-1840s. A whirlwind tore off its roof and knocked down its belfry in 1858. A careless caretaker burned the church to its walls in June 1894. After it burned again in 1947, it was rebuilt once more. Another windstorm permanently demolished it in 1951.

Wainee 3The church’s name was changed to Waiola (Water of Life) in 1954. Now owned by the Waiola Protestant Church, the building has continued to stand safely ever since. The old cemetery and the current church stand on almost 2.5 acres on Waine’e Street, between Chapel and Shaw Streets, not far from the Seamen’s Cemetery.

According to one source, the Waine’e church inspired Reverend Abner Hale’s mission church in James Michener’s Hawai’i.

Useful links:

The cemetery’s website

Waiola Church history

Ho’okuleana encyclopedia of Hawaiian history

Other Hawaiian cemeteries on Cemetery Travel:

Seamen’s Cemetery in Lahaina, Maui

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu

Kawaiaha’o Churchyard, Honolulu, Oahu

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Keawala’i Churchyard, Makena, Maui

St. Philomena Churchyard, Kalaupapa National Historic Site, Molokai

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Death’s Garden: Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin mausoleum002

Modern postcard of Lenin’s Mausoleum

by Melodie Bolt

In January 1988, I stood in Red Square with thirty American college students watching Lenin’s Honor Guard change.

The replacement soldiers exited the Kremlin gate and moved parallel to the Kremlin wall. The duo marched in long wool military coats, black boots goose stepping. But what seemed inconceivable was the position of their rifles: gripped in the left palm, with a steady aim at heaven. With boots tocking across the stone, the pair relieved the guards on duty to keep the watch.

Vladimir Ilyitch Lenin’s mausoleum is a squat ziggurat constructed from black stone and red marble. He died in 1924 at the age of 53 and was embalmed shortly thereafter. Thousands have visited the Bolshevik leader to pay their respects. A few days after watching the guards, we returned to see Lenin ourselves.

One of our professors, a Hungarian, told us the rumor that the only “original” pieces on Lenin’s body were the head and hands, preserved, while the rest had been buried or burned. It sounded grisly. Since we were in our late teens and early twenties, such things only excited our curiosity. Giggling as we piled off the tour bus, we filled the air with American smiles, hard currency, Marlboros, and Levi’s. Our bright Gore-Tex jackets added confettied splashes to the solemn scene.

The line for the presentation of the dead wound down—a black ribbon—from the mausoleum. We joined the queue in the Alexander Garden.

The garden, commissioned by Tsar Alexander I, was built long before the Bolshevik Revolution to celebrate Russia’s defeat of Napoleon. The garden later became a pivotal scene in Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel Master and Margarita. The story, set in the 1930s, follows the havoc created by the Devil and his minions in Moscow. Interwoven with the Devil’s arc is the story of Pontius Pilate and the trial and execution of Jesus. It is in Alexander Garden that the Devil’s demonic assassin, Azazello, meets Margarita and pulls her from Communist reality to the supernatural (Christian) sphere. Bulgakov’s writings and plays were banned by Communist censorship. He died in 1940. Master and Margarita remained unpublished until 1966.

How ironic that our pilgrimage to the mausoleum started in the same garden created by a Tsar and the location where a demon from Christian mythology takes a Soviet woman to Satan’s Ball. Lenin, a devout atheist, despised religion and firmly believed in Karl Marx’s assertion that it was opium for the people. Standing there in January, the same month that Lenin died, I watched St. Basil’s draw nearer as the line moved toward the mausoleum’s entrance.

Our professor admonished us to enter two-by-two, to be respectful, and for God’s sake, to be silent. It was bitter cold. For all the people in line, it was exceptionally quiet.

The girl walking with me wore a beret reminiscent of the one that Prince sang about in 1985. Not quite raspberry, its lavender sequins glittered atop her golden curls. My partner and I settled into a respectful demeanor until the student behind us cracked some juvenile joke. We snickered, at got hissed at by the professors and the older, more mature students, and tried to compose ourselves again.

As I stood in front of the oppressive architecture, I began to panic. My thoughts raced. Lenin died at 53. When I entered the mausoleum, he had been embalmed for 64 years. How decayed would the body be? Would it be evident that the head and hands had been severed from the body? How far would the labyrinth would go until I could leave? I felt claustrophobic. I wondered if the room would be brimming with lilies. I hated that rich funereal smell.

The line kept moving. There was no time to prepare. I entered and Lenin was right there. The line moved continuously with no time for genuflection, no real time to study the body. There was only the red and black stone, the shuffle of boots on the floor, and the body.

Lenin corpse003They call it lying in state. Glass walls enclosed a dias. The coffin looked more like a canopied bed with the body angled so his head raised a little higher. Great ruffled black satin, looking almost Victorian, draped over his legs and spilled toward the floor. The canopy top was a replica of the mausoleum’s ziggurat design, but made of wood. He wore a black suit. His hands rested near his waist, one clenched in a fist, the other open, palm down.

His face looked as though he were sleeping, more waxen than the freshly dead. His hair and goatee were exactly the same as the black and white images in our history books, but the tinge of copper surprised me. Lashes rested against his skin; face calm, serene.

There was no time to look closer, to stand in awe. The line kept pushing me forward. As I serpentined around his feet and back up the other side of his body, I caught the faces of the Russians in front of me observing his supine form; their dark eyes unreadable in the dim light. I turned back for one last glance. So much power, so much fire in his rhetoric to spawn a world power to be reckoned with. Suddenly, I was back outside, breathing the refreshing January air that moments ago had seemed so bitterly cold. Spilling into Red Square, our voices were subdued, including the joker behind me.

It wasn’t until I began writing my essay that I looked online for more information regarding Lenin’s mausoleum. You can easily find images of his body online, both from inside the mausoleum and during the embalming process. I have to admit that seeing the graphic images him disrobed have cheapened my memory. The frail, naked body with the great gash doesn’t seem to honor that moment in time, Soviet power and Soviet history as perceived by an outsider. There was so much mystery to Moscow and the Communists.

Here are some interesting facts I discovered while writing this:

  • Turns out that the body is Lenin’s without his organs and brain. The brain is preserved elsewhere. The corpse is frequently re-embalmed to keep discoloration from the skin.
  • Lenin’s body was removed from Moscow to protect it during WWII and then returned later.
  • Stalin’s body was also on display next to Lenin’s until it was removed when the Soviet Union began the de-Stalinalization process.
  • In 1993, Yeltsin removed the Honor Guard from Lenin’s tomb, but it remains today at the eternal flame honoring the military dead near the mausoleum. You can find youtube videos featuring the guards.
  • The embalming process is top secret and other heads of state from other countries have been embalmed by the Moscow team.
  • Recently, a Russian movement has urged the government to have Lenin buried.

Perhaps Lenin, being an atheist, wouldn’t mind his body being handled by scientists honing their embalming skills with images available online for any curious eyes. Perhaps science is the truest end for the man who started the greatest revolution by promising power, not heavenly rewards, to the people.

References

https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/in-the-flesh-russian-scientists-work-to-preserve-lenins-corpse-52771

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45480

Lenin’s Mausoleum was a Cemetery of the Week on CemeteryTravel.

CemeteryTravel’s review of Lenin’s Embalmer.

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Melodie HeadShotMelodie Bolt writes poetry and contemporary fantasy & dark fiction. She earned an MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Portland, Oregon and an MA in Composition & Rhetoric from University of Michigan Flint. Her poetry has appeared in magazines like TOTUVerse Wisconsin, and Yellow Medicine Review. Her fiction has been recently published in the anthologies Incarceration (Wolfsinger Publications, 2017), Hoofbeats: Flying with Magical Horses (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016), and the magazine Witches&Pagans #31, 2015). She is currently working on a dark fiction novel set in Flint, Michigan. Melodie has been a member of the Flint Area Writers for over a decade and frequently contributes to the blog at www.flintareawriters.org . You can also find more of her work here.

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Death's Garden001About the Death’s Garden project:

I am jump-starting the Death’s Garden project again. If there is a cemetery that has touched your life, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you, particularly if there is one you visited on vacation — or if you got married in one. The submissions guidelines are here.

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