It would cost a little over $1,000 for me to fly from BWI to Beijing, China. And it would only take 19 hours. That’s not nearly as bad as I thought. Wanna know what’s weird, though? The cheapest flights are on Air Canada. For just about $100 more, Continental could get me there in 16 hours. And for $200 less, I could drive to Newark, NJ and get a direct, 13 hour, 45 minute flight. A similar flight from JFK would cost, get this, $400 MORE. The lesson here? If you are traveling and can choose from several different airports, it pays to check prices. Not that I am flying to Beijing (sorry, Shan!). I’m just daydreaming.
Here’s another very odd fact… according to the American Battle Monuments Commission, there are twenty cemeteries in Europe where American soldiers are buried. Twenty.
They are not small cemeteries either. At the 90-acre Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium, there are 5,329 Americans buried. They lost their lives in the 1944 Battle of the Bulge.
In Luxembourg, there’s another cemetery. At 50 acres, it is much smaller, but there are 5,076 Americans buried there, most of whom also lost their lives during the Battle of the Bulge.
The Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial, which is also in Belgium, “possesses great military historic significance as it holds fallen Americans of two major efforts, one covering the U.S. First Army’s drive in September 1944 through northern France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg into Germany, the second covering the Battle of the Bulge.” It covers 57 acres and holds 7,992 of our military dead.
In case you haven’t been doing the math, those three cemeteries alone house the remains of almost 19,000 fallen Americans. Nineteen THOUSAND.
And that’s not all. A fourth, the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, in the Netherlands, has 8,301 graves. All of the cemeteries also have monuments upon which are inscribed the names of thousands of missing soldiers.
Here’s the odd part. I bought Eyewitness Travel Guides for Europe and Belgium/Luxembourg. Neither of them mention these American cemeteries. One says something to the effect of the Ardennes salient is littered with war cemeteries.
It isn’t just American cemeteries that are not mentioned either. There are many, many Canadian and German Cemeteries, too. Probably cemeteries from other nations, as well.
Now, I’m no history buff, but World War II was a pretty significant event in Europe’s history. One would think these cemeteries and memorials would be mentioned.
What about World War I? I think Flanders Field in Belgium got a brief mention. But that’s it.
Any idea why these cemeteries don’t warrant mention? Is it a phenomenon with Eyewitness Travel Guides only? I guess I’ll have to check out some other travel guides to see.