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.
This <a href="http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ar.php" target="_hplink">90-acre WWII cemetery</a> contains the graves of 5,323 American soliders who died during the 1944 Battle of the Bulge.
Britanny American Cemetery, France
A <a href="http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/br.php" target="_hplink">28-acre cemetery</a> lies on the eastern edge of Brittany and holds the remains of 4,410 American war dead, most of whom died in 1944 in the area.
Cambridge American Cemetery, England
This 30.5-acre cemetery was originally donated by the University of Cambridge. The ABMC is building a new visitor center at the resting spot of 3,812 military men.
Cambridge American Cemetery, England
Henri Chapelle American Cemetery, Belgium
At 57 acres, this<a href="http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/hc.php" target="_hplink"> Belgian cemetery hosts the remains of 7,992 military dead</a>, mostly from the German advance.
Luxembourg American Cemetery
<a href="http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/lx.php" target="_hplink">Luxembourg served as the headquarters for General George S. Patton</a>. It's only fitting that he, along with 5,076 others, is buried in this 50.5-acre cemetery.
Normandy American Cemetery
This cemetery is the <a href="http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/no.php" target="_hplink">most popular with visitors</a> (with 1 million visitors annually). The cemetery was the first American cemetery to be built on European soil during World War II (it was established on June 8, 1944).
Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument
This monument sits on a cliff some eight miles west of the Normandy cemetery. Built by the French, it <a href="http://www.abmc.gov/memorials/memorials/ph.php" target="_hplink">honors members of the American Second Ranger Battalion</a>, who scaled the 100-foot cliffs and seized German artillery, preventing German counter attacks.
Sicily Rome American Cemetery
A new visitor center will soon be open at this cemetery, which sits on 77 acres. 7,861 American military war dead are honored for their efforts in the <a href="http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/sr.php" target="_hplink">liberation of Sicily in the summer of 1943</a>.
Rhone American Cemetery, France
This 12.5-acre cemetery sits on the <a href="http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/rh.php" target="_hplink">historic drive by the U.S. Seventh Army's</a>. It was established on August 19, 1944 after that army (of which 860 are buried here) surprised with a landing there. It was established on August 19, 1944 after the Seventh Army's surprise landing in southern France.