LeOna Kriesel Cox describes a Memorial Day service in 1944. It is what touched her most during her time overseas. Here is what she said.
“A Memorial Day service at the American cemetery outside of Constantine, has touched me in ways that I’ll never forget. It was so lovely. First, soldiers marched into the cemetery, each one carried a bouquet of flowers. They circled a picturesque white chapel and came to a halt beside white crosses that marked each grave.
Next came five navy boys in starched whites carrying their bouquets; two nurses in formal uniforms followed them. In front of a small, white chapel a French band was assembled; representatives of the American, French and British armed forces stood around the flagpole.
As the band played a medley of American war songs guns were fired in salute. A signal was given and together all the soldiers leaned down, each placed the bouquet he carried on the grave next to where he stood. Then four huge wreaths were placed around the flagpole.
The Navy chaplain, together with Protestant, Catholic and Jewish chaplains, offered prayers for the boys buried in the cemetery. The flag was raised from half-mast to full mast and the band played the Star-Spangled Banner.
Outside the cemetery red poppies covered the hills. Truly, it was something I’ll never forget. It made me so proud to be over here; if only the people back home could see how immaculately clean these little cemeteries are I’m sure they would feel much better about the boys they’ve lost.”