Renovated Visitor Center to Open at Flanders Field American Cemetery
Nearly 100 years ago, the United States entered World War I. Young men shipped off to Europe to fight the enemy and defend democracy. To coincide with this anniversary, the renovated visitor center at Flanders Field American Cemetery will be dedicated on April 6, 2017 at 4 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
While Flanders Field may be the smallest of ABMC’s cemeteries, and its only WWI cemetery in Belgium, every headstone and inscription on the Wall of the Missing represents an American story, a piece of our collective history. This renovated building gives the visitor a better understanding of the Great War, the sacrifice of individuals who perished fighting in the region, and the role of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).
Together, the exhibits demonstrate how the American Army drew from all walks of life—different ethnic groups, including recent immigrants; various geographic regions of the United States; and citizens from military and non-military professions. The exhibits also underscore the special American/Belgian bond that has developed over this past century through the shared experience of the war. And visitors will understand that the permanent cemetery was created out of the temporary site—showing the unique role of ABMC in the planning, design, construction and maintenance of American overseas cemeteries. To show the personal side of war, 1st Lt. Albert Closterman, Pvt. George Ashe, Sgt. Paul Kicka, Pvt. Stanislaw Labno, Pvt. Anthony Durand and Pfc. Michele Chimienti are just a few of the soldier stories who are highlighted in the exhibit.
Exhibit panels, photographs, personal stories, a film, historic maps, and interactive kiosks all help to explain these larger themes. And with these resources available in both English and Dutch, local visitors and Americans can both experience the site.
This renovated site also brings the visitor a piece of the 1920s. As part of the renovations, the reception area has been kept as historic as possible. The original design of this room intentionally mimicked the look of a parlor in the attempt to create a welcoming space for grieving mothers, widows, and families.
Attendance is always free, and no tickets nor reservations are required.
ABMC is dedicated to bringing excellent experiences to visitors around the globe through new visitor centers. The Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center opened in 2007, followed by visitor centers at Cambridge American Cemetery, Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Pointe du Hoc in 2014. A renovated visitor center at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery opened in 2016.
Established by Congress in 1923, the American Battle Monuments Commission commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of U.S. armed forces. ABMC administers 26 overseas military cemeteries, and 27 memorials, monuments, and markers.