The Normandy American Cemetery commemorates the sacrifice of those who served in Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings in Normandy and subsequent campaigns to establish a footing for the liberation of Europe.
9,387 of those who perished are interred at the cemetery while 1,557 are commemorated on the Tablets of the Missing. There are 49 sets of brothers, and 3 Medal of Honor recipients buried in the cemetery. The cemetery was dedicated on July 18, 1956.
The cemetery contains a visitor center with a permanent exhibition depicting the significance and main events of Operation Overlord.
The memorial is located on the easternmost end of the graves area. It is flanked by the garden of the missing to the east and the reflecting pool on the west.
Centered in the open arc of the memorial facing the graves area is a 22-foot tall bronze statue, The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves, created by the American sculptor Donald De Lue.
On the interior walls of the memorial are maps depicting several operations of World War II including the landing at Normandy on June 6, 1944, air operations over Normandy during March through August 1944, and military operations in western Europe from June 6, 1944 to May 8, 1945.
Inside the garden of the missing, behind the memorial, are engraved tablets honoring the 1,557 missing in action who died in the region, and whose remains were not recovered.
A bronze rosette beside a name shows that their remains were later recovered, identified and buried.
In front of the memorial lies the reflecting pool, the graves area expands west from here broken up into ten plots labeled A through J. Flagpoles stand at the front of grave plots, A and B.
Each headstone marks the burial site of an individual who fought and died in the liberation of Europe. The average age of those memorialized is 24 years old. They are buried without regard for rank, race, or gender.
Each burial is listed with plot, row and grave information. Row numbers are listed in small, embedded plaques in the ground at the end of every odd-numbered row. Grave numbering starts along the central mall, and grow larger in number moving out. The grave numbers are listed at the base of each headstone.
At the end of the path from the memorial towards the English Channel is the overlook with a map showing the Allied landings on D-Day.
A winding path leads from the overlook down to Omaha Beach.
The circular chapel is situated after the first six grave plots and before the final four.
Directly above the chapel’s exterior door is an engraved replica of the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest award for valor.
Inside the chapel, there is a beautiful stained glass window behind the altar, illuminating the chapel with soft yellow light.
Its ceiling is a colorful mosaic symbolizing America’s fight for freedom, and France’s gratefulness to those Americans who died while liberating Europe’s oppressed peoples.
At the westernmost end of the cemetery stand two statues representing the United States and France with the respective national symbols of these countries: a rooster for France, and an eagle for America.
Walking from the cemetery towards the visitor center, the time capsule is buried in a small patch of earth on the southward path from the memorial.
Inside this sealed capsule are news reports of the June 6, 1944 Normandy landings.