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WW1 : Luminary at the American Cemetery Meuse-Argonne September 23, 2018
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September 04, 2018
On September 23, the American Cemetery of Meuse-Argonne will light more than 14,000 candles. Ceremony participants will discover the exceptional stories of men and women buried at this site thanks to the American Battle Monuments Commission’s (ABMC) decision to highlight their personal stories, deeply rooted in History.
It is quite hard to imagine the extraordinary richness of the lives lived by the individuals whose memory is shared here, or the personal qualities that were their own. That’s why the mission of the American Battle Monuments Commission is as much a tribute as it is a mission of information to honor and share the meaning of each person’s sacrifice.
The American Battle Monuments Commission has decided to highlight, especially on social networks, the lives of 5 individuals who rest at the cemetery. For if war sealed their fate by linking them forever to the history of the free world, it greatly defines who they are.
Marion Crandall, the teacher enamored with France
Contrary to what is often thought, there are not only soldiers in ABMC’s American military cemeteries. This is the case for Marion Crandall, a YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) volunteer. This American French teacher, in love with France, graduated from Sorbonne University.
As a woman of conviction, she embarked for France in 1918 to provide help and support to combatants in the “foyers du soldat” managed by the YMCA. She died in the bombardment of her inn at Sainte-Menehould in the Marne. She is the first civilian woman killed in the war. She now rests in the land of her adopted country, among the very soldiers she chose to help.
Eddie Grant, a man of many talents
Eddie Grant was a surprising man in many ways. He was a Harvard graduate, a lawyer and a professional baseball player. He died in search of the “lost battalion.” The extraordinary life of an exceptional man.
This professional baseball player for the Cleveland Naps and the New York Giants was affectionately nicknamed “Harvard Eddie” by his teammates because of his academic background and his habit of always reading a good book. An anecdote of his habits says that his intellectual rigor followed him on the baseball field, where even upon catching a ball he always used the grammatically correct expression “I have it!” in place of the usual “I got it!” used by his teammates. At the end of his professional career, he became a lawyer, but would soon after leave his firm as he was one of the first volunteers in the country, Captain Grant lost his life in search of the “lost battalion” in 1918.
Franck Luke Jr., a free spirit above all
Frank Luke Jr. grew up in Arizona in a large family. He is unanimously described as a daring free spirit, but also a hot head. His youth helped to forge this strong character while working in a coal mine and maintaining a love of sports, especially boxing.
A driver known for his skill, creativity and passion, he never hesitated to take risks, at times even against the orders of his superiors. These qualities granted him no fewer than 19 victories in France. His final battle on September 18, 1918 was too much to overcome, closing out the destiny of an aviation prodigy.
Brothers Salter and Coleman Clark, two brothers beyond nations
The Clark brothers had a unique fate. One fought under the French uniform and the other under the American one.
In April 1916, while studying at Yale, Coleman was asked about the scale of the war in France. He decided to help the French and British troops on the front and embarked for France. On the Verdun front and then on that of the Balkans, Coleman became a paramedic.
Back in France, Coleman learns that the Americans declare war. Unable to enlist in the United States, he joined the Artillery Regiment of the French Foreign Legion. Salter regularly received letters from his brother, by which he learned about daily life during the war and also about his brother’s inability to join the American army.
Salter, following his brother, enlists in 1917, but in the American army. At the same time, Coleman, having been wounded, is evacuated to a field hospital where he would later succumb to his injuries. A month after arriving on the Old Continent, Salter learns of his brother’s death in a letter from his parents. He later died near Grand-Pré on October 19th. Coleman and Salter are now reunited at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.
These are only a handful of stories to be discovered during the ceremony held at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery. “The American Battle Monuments Commission brings a vivid vision of history. These fates build bridges between the past and the present. After all, we’re passionate about sports, like Eddie and Frank, fascinated by a country or culture, like Marion, and attached to our family, like Coleman and Salter.” – Bruce Malone, superintendent of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.
The stories of these soldiers will be unveiled this summer on the ABMC’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.
The ABMC is proud to have, for this exceptional event, partners among associations and communities who help keeping the memory of this events alive through the years
Association pour la Promotion et l’Expansion du Canton de Montfaucon d’Argonne
About Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery:
Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France, covering 130.5 acres, is the largest American Cemetery in Europe, holding 14,246 graves and 954 missing in action. Most of the servicemen buried in this cemetery lost their lives during Meuse-Argonne offensive of World War I. The immense array of headstones rises in long regular rows upward beyond a wide central pool to the chapel that crowns the ridge.
The interpretation center, replacing the former visitors’ center, opened in November 2016. The 1,600-square meter building now offers interactive exhibitions, screenings, and display panels showcasing the stories of individual soldiers as well as the importance of the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
About the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC):
The ABMC is an agency of the executive branch of the federal government, honoring the service, achievements and sacrifices of the U.S. armed forces abroad since April 6th, 1917. The ABMC manages and maintains 26 cemeteries and 29 federal memorials, monuments, and commemorative plaques throughout the world. The Commission also maintains 3 memorials in the United States.
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