Photo Left: The Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial—-one of
We landed in Paris, rented a car and headed for Metz in northeastern
France. About 4:00 Karen spotted a roadside sign for an American
cemetery. We were in the general area of the WW I Muse-Argonne and
Aisne-Marne battlefields and we made an 80 km/hr. decision to
After a seemingly endless drive winding around fields and farms, we
stumbled upon the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery. Our car was almost
alone in the lot in front of the administration building, which is
also the Superintendents’ home. Luck would have it that the Super
and another American couple were chatting on the front steps and
invited us to join them on a guided tour of the cemetery.
The Superintendent, CSM Hubert Caloud USMC Ret. was very engaging
and welcoming. A true personality who had an extensive knowledge of
all things military, he takes great pride in not only his but all
the European American War Cemeteries.
cemetery is divided into four sections identified A-D. Our first
stop was Section E! Routine visitors don’t see Section E and it is
not identified on the brochure guide. For many years it was a
“confidential” location only exposed in 2009 by a Freedom of
Information request. This is the burial place of 98 U.S. soldiers
who were executed following court martial during WWII. It is
considered a place of shame with the graves marked only by ground
Photo Right: 1961 April 2022: Karen & Mike Urette were at the
Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial: Seen here are Mike and Marine CSM Hubert Caloud. "He is a marvelous
representative for the USA.”
Karen & Mike journeyed on to Bastogne
for more absorption of history.
With that somber opening, Hubert led us to the main grounds – a
field of beauty filled with rows of pristine white crosses and stars
of David centered upon a stunning memorial. The first stop was the
gravesite of Sergeant Joyce Kilmer---you will remember him from
Plebe English as the author of the poem “Trees” (I think that I
shall never see….). He was killed in battle at age 31 while serving
in the 42nd Rainbow Division. Following an extremely well narrated
tour of the semi-circular memorial of marble and granite constructed
in a Romanesque style, and a small chapel to the memorial's right,
and a one-room museum to the left, the Superintendent invited us to
join him and an associate in lowering the American flag in the
center of the four sections. We were surprised and honored.
Following the lowering to the haunting music of Taps, we helped fold
the flag---to Marine Corps standards--- and CSM Caloud presented the
flag to me. I was overwhelmed and appreciative beyond words.
Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day they will all be
remembered as “Oise-Aisne Day” to me.
Those of you who have visited some of the other 26 American
cemeteries around the world probably have the same feeling. It is
one never to be forgotten.”