Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy 68 years ago today. To commemorate those who died in the massive conflagration that ensued, a massive cemetery was built. That cemetery and the many others like it are run by the American Battle Monuments Commission which was created by Congress in 1923 at the behest of General John J. Pershing.
The Commission, which is part of the Executive Branch, now cares for and runs 24 cemeteries and 25 memorials, monuments and markers in 15 countries around the world. Each honor America's war heroes.
Many more tourists visit the beaches of Normandy than the other memorials and cemeteries that dot Europe, yet other cemeteries not celebrated in Spielberg films have just as much to offer the history-minded traveler. There are nearly 125,000 U.S. war dead buried in these cemeteries around Europe and the names of an additional 94,135 others who are missing in action from both World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Fourteen of these cemeteries and 10 monuments and memorials commemorate World War II alone.
Don't feel like heading to Europe? You can also go to Mexico City and Corozal, Panama, where the ABMC runs cemeteries honoring those who died in the 1848 Mexican War and another 6,220 American veterans and others.
Here are some of the most affecting memorials across Europe.
Check out our list of historical cemeteries worth visiting here.
Photos courtesy of the American Battle Monuments Commission.