Last week (I wrote this in January…) my mom, dad, Patrick and I went to visit the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. First of all, before arriving I’d read a few blog entries on how amazing this place is and how much people love the cemetery. We’ve been here for over 6 months and finally found our way over there. I didn’t think the cemetery would be as amazing as it has proven to be.
No matter where over seas you live, it is not home, it is not America. There is always something that just isn’t “right” about where you are. You could be living in Paris and still not feel at home, because it is not home. This is what we signed up for, living overseas, living in a place that is foreign all the time, places that don’t function like we do in America, good or bad. But once we drove into the cemetery I felt like we were back home. Everything was organized, clean, perfect. There was nothing ugly about this place. It is a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively.
Walking up to the memorial that overlooks The Fort was just so beautiful and refreshing. I’m not a great writer and I just can not give the justice to this memorial that it deserves. All around the outside are mosaics of the different battles fought during the war around the Philippines. The mosaics are not only beautiful but they are also informative. The lose of life from the war just from this area is overwhelming and humbling. There are over 17,000 military dead buried and more than 36,000 names are on the walls of the missing in battle.
So, the bottom line is that the cemetery is amazing, you must go and see it and take in the Americanness of the place, and it’s just too wonderful for me to convey properly in this blog.
Here is what their website has to say about the cemetery.
The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines occupies 152 acres on a prominent plateau, visible at a distance from the east, south and west. It contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II, a total of 17,201, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines. The headstones are aligned in 11 plots forming a generally circular pattern, set among masses of a wide variety of tropical trees and shrubbery.
The chapel, a white masonry building enriched with sculpture and mosaic, stands near the center of the cemetery. In front of it on a wide terrace are two large hemicycles. Twenty-five mosaic maps recall the achievements of the American armed forces in the Pacific, China, India and Burma. On rectangular Trani limestone piers within the hemicycles, are inscribed the Tablets of the Missing containing 36,285 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. Carved in the floors are the seals of the American states and its territories. From the memorial and other points within the cemetery there are impressive views over the lowlands to Laguna de Bay and towards the distant mountains.
The cemetery is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except December 25 and January 1. It is open on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty in the visitor building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.