This trip was the highlight of our holiday and the reason why our ex-US Marine son-in-law wanted to visit the area so much. We visited the cemetery, memorial and took a trip around the wood itself with the help of the written guided tour. It was really moving to stand on the hill overlooking the field where more US Marines were slaughtered in one day than had previously died in their entire history - over one thousand casualties in a single day. We stood in the dense, cool woodland overlooking the bright golden cornfield baked by a hot sunny day and it made your skin prickle, we couldn't hear any birdsong or other noise. It is hard to imagine what bravery and courage those men had to overcome their fears and climb that steep hill to defeat their enemy.
Of course we had to visit the famous/infamous Devil Dog fountain and our son-in-law drank from it thus increasing his life expectancy by ten years (if you believe the legend).
The cemetery is kept in immaculate condition and the lady at the Lodge was very helpful and friendly as was the young lady at the museum. It was poignant to read the names of the dead and think that so many of them had no doubt travelled to the US from Europe to find a better life and then returned to Europe to meet their death.
Look out for the marker on the opposite side of the road which marks the extent of the boundary line of the advance on November 1918 and also the little German cemetery just up the road which is in such stark contrast to the impressive glory of the American one. A poignant comment on victory and defeat in war.
An absolute must for every American to stop by and pay their respects to their fellow countrymen buried on foreign soil and a moving experience for all of us.
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