Contemplating heroes: American overseas war cemetaries

The sad case of Clark Military Cemetery in the Philippines and the caretaker veterans’ efforts for US government support is a reminder for US citizens on Independence Day that while rushing about the world, a visit to a war cemetery is a symbolic honor and moving experience. Further info on Clark for those interested in visiting or support can be found in these reports from the Washington Post and Associated Press.

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Guidebooks often fail to mention these cemeteries. The Rapid Traveler had no idea he missed ones in Carthage, Tunisia and Mexico City, Mexico. The one in Manila, Philippines he only noticed on a map in his guidebook with no further info listed, but it was a highlight of his trip.

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US domestic cemeteries are managed by the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and locations can be found here. In April, The Rapid Traveler visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at a stunning location in Punchbowl, behind Honolulu, a quiet conclusion to a day that included visits to the USS Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri Memorial. For those in Honolulu with just an hour or two and unable to see the Pearl Harbor sights, the cemetery is a great consolation.

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Overseas cemeteries are managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission: cemeteries, memorials, and grainy maps.

The day before visiting the Manila American Cemetary and Memorial, on a boat to Corregidor Island, The Rapid Traveler met the family of a fallen solder interred at the Manila American Cemetery, visiting his grave for the first time. His story and his family’s efforts to visit his resting place were humbling and the next day, when The Rapid Traveler saw some freshly placed flowers at one of the thousands of markers, he could not hold back a few empathetic tears when he saw the matching name.

Ralph J Washoviak

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