Epinal American Cemetery Hosts Luminary Organized by Local Group

In the foothills of the Vosges Mountains in eastern France, rest more than 5,000 Americans in Epinal American Cemetery who died in World War II. Hours from Paris and tucked amidst bucolic French countryside, it could be easy to believe that the American sacrifice has been forgotten here. But this is far from the truth. In February the cemetery hosted a Luminary, which was organized by the U.S. Memory Grand Est France Association (USMGEF), as a way to honor these Americans who paid the ultimate price in the fight for freedom.

Volunteers placed an LED candle on every headstone at the cemetery as well as for each name on the Walls of the Missing. Beginning as dusk settled over the landscape,  these lights served as a bold, visual against the darkening sky. For this memorable occasion the cemetery was open to visitors until 7 p.m. to admire the lights. Each candle represented an American life cut short during the darkness of war. Prior to the candles being placed, attendees gathered for an opening ceremony near the memorial building.

What makes this event especially unique is that it’s organized and attended by mostly local European citizens who want to say thank you. USMGEF manages a grave adoption program at the cemetery, as well as organizes events like this. These citizens volunteers their time and effort to remember the American World War II sacrifice decades later.