US, French honor fallen

ST. AVOLD, France --

On a day where many are often relaxing, shopping or enjoying barbecues, more than 1,500 people gathered at Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial, May 29, in St. Avold, France, to observe a Memorial Day ceremony.

Traditionally observed the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is a day to commemorate men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

“It is certainly heartening to see such a large audience here,” said Brig. Gen. Jon T. Thomas, 86th Airlift Wing commander. “Today I have the honor and privilege to pay tribute on one of our most sacred observances.”

American and French citizens attended the ceremony at the largest American WWII cemetery in Europe. There are more than 10,000 American servicemembers buried at the cemetery, including four Medal of Honor recipients, 11 women and 30 sets of brothers.

“This place is a place of peace,” said (Ret) Gen. Richard Wolsztynski. “I very humbly try to forward the legacy of these sacrifices to the younger generations.”

The ceremony included special readings, wreath presentations, retiring of the colors and a flyover by a C-130J Super Hercules to provide recognition to those buried at the cemetery.

“Our obligation on this day and every day is to remember our fellow Americans and the cause to which they gave their lives,” Thomas said.

At the closing of the ceremony, attendees stood as Taps played and salutes rendered, followed by a moment of silence.