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Monuments and memorials in Colleville

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

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The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial (French: Cimetière américain de Colleville-sur-Mer) is a World War II cemetery and memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, that honors American troops who died in Europe during World War II.


On June 8, 1944, the U.S. First Army established the temporary cemetery, the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. After the war, the present-day cemetery was established a short distance to the east of the original site.

Like all other overseas American cemeteries in France for World War I and II, France has granted the United States a special, perpetual concession to the land occupied by the cemetery, free of any charge or any tax. This cemetery is managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission, a small independent agency of the U.S. federal government, under Congressional acts that provide yearly financial support for maintaining them, with most military and civil personnel employed abroad. The U.S. flag flies over these granted soils.


The cemetery is located on a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion) and the English Channel. It covers 172 acres (70 ha), and contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. Included are graves of Army Air Corps crews shot down over France as early as 1942 and three American women.

Only some of the soldiers who died overseas are buried in the overseas American military cemeteries. When it came time for a permanent burial, the next of kin eligible to make decisions were asked if they wanted their loved ones repatriated for permanent burial in the U.S., or interred at the closest overseas cemetery.

Notable interments

Among the burials at the cemetery are three recipients of the Medal of Honor, including Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of President Theodore Roosevelt. After the creation of the cemetery, another son of President Roosevelt, Quentin, who had been killed in World War I, was exhumed and reburied next to his brother Theodore, Jr.

Notable burials at the cemetery include:

  • Lesley J. McNair, U.S. Army general, one of the two highest-ranking Americans to be killed in action in World War II
  • Jimmie W. Monteith, Medal of Honor recipient
  • Two of the Niland brothers, Preston and Robert
  • Frank D. Peregory, Medal of Honor recipient
  • Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son of President Theodore Roosevelt, Medal of Honor recipient
  • Quentin Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt, aviator killed in action in World War I

The Memorial

The names of 1,557 Americans who lost their lives in the Normandy campaign but could not be located and/or identified are inscribed on the walls of a semicircular garden at the east side of the memorial. This part consists of a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing maps and narratives of the military operations. At the center is a 22-foot bronze statue entitled The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves by Donald De Lue, and an overhead mural by Leon Kroll. Facing west at the memorial, one sees in the foreground the reflecting pool, the mall with burial areas to either side and the circular chapel beyond. Behind the chapel are allegorical figures representing the United States and France. An orientation table overlooks the beach and depicts the landings at Normandy.

The Memorial faces the United States at its nearest point to the cemetery; a point between Eastport and Lubec, Maine.

Time capsule

Embedded in the lawn directly opposite the entrance to the old Visitors' Building is a time capsule which has been sealed and contains news reports of the June 6, 1944 Normandy landings. The capsule is covered by a pink granite slab upon which is engraved: To be opened June 6, 2044. Affixed in the center of the slab is a bronze plaque adorned with the five stars of a General of the Army and engraved with the following inscription: 'In memory of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the forces under his command. This sealed capsule containing news reports of the June 6, 1944 Normandy landings is placed here by the newsmen who were here, June 6, 1969.

In popular culture


  • In the horror film The Omen (1976), the cemetery is used as a main photo poster with Damien standing next to the thousands of graves.
  • In Saving Private Ryan (1998), the cemetery is featured at the beginning and end, showing World War II veteran Private James Francis Ryan accompanied by his family. In the beginning of the film, he makes his way to the grave of Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks). At the end, Ryan salutes the grave and asks his wife if he lived a good life and was a good man. (Both the grave and Captain John Miller are fictional; the headstone for Miller was only brought to the cemetery for the movie.) The Private Ryan story is based upon the story of the Niland Brothers, two of whom are buried in the cemetery; references are also made to the five Sullivan brothers, who were all killed in the "Juneau incident".


  • Symphonic Prelude (The Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer), by Mark Camphouse, portrays the battle in a way that battles are commonly depicted for bands: a slow introduction followed by a moderate tempo body and a majestic ending.

See also

  • List of military cemeteries in Normandy

Further reading

  • Sledge, Michael (2005). Soldier Dead: How We Recover, Identify, Bury, and Honor Our Military Fallen. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN . OCLC 60527603. 

External links

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Tips & Hints
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Matt Velasco
23 April 2011
Take the opportunity to walk the beach while you're there!
Jetset Extra
5 June 2013
There are thousands of unknown stories resting beneath the 9,387 tombstones of American military dead who lost their lives on D-Day and the days after.
Transatlantic Blonde
5 July 2012
All the headstones line up perfectly whether you are looking horizontally, vertically or cross wise
Walter Barry
5 August 2011
If you're American, ask the US onsite manager if your children can participate in the 5:15 pm changing of the flags. A real honor.
Yves Le Calvez
30 August 2010
No dogs allowed
Thomas Caryn
17 August 2013
You can find the Private Ryan's brothers on: Square "F" - Line 15 - Cross 11 & 12. Their real names are Preston & Robert NILAND (and not RYAN).
Matt Rosenberg
15 April 2013
TAPS is played daily @ 1630. A humbling experience for any human to take in. It's hard not to walk these hallowed grounds and get teary eyed. Visit an unknown and give his gravestone a hug.
Karel Nijs
6 April 2013
Impressive and superclean cemetery. American security is overacted though. Nice view on beaches. Bring warm clothes because of heavy winds.
David K.
26 July 2012
Leave plenty of time this part of your trip to Normandy. The Memorial is outstanding, and you'll want to enjoy every bit of it.
Juha 3000
1 October 2015
Watch out for the sprinklers!
Felipe Prieto
19 February 2014
without words, you can try to imagine how was this massacre but you can't... you can find the memorial of 2 sons of president Roosevelt and the famous time capsule in the end of the road at left hand.
Charles Fineberg
2 August 2013
9,387 dead from WWII, 1 dead from WWI (the 2nd Roosevelt's brother). Details like that from Eva Ruttger's tour!
Seriously impressive.
22 August 2011
Thanks for your lives than bring us Freedom !
17 December 2015
D-Day Museum. Free parking. Bring the kids n teach them something about sacrifice n duty.
Cees Pille
26 July 2015
Impressive cemetery! My deepest respect for those brave men who gave their lives for our freedom. The view on Omaha beach is beautiful.
Lilou Magis
30 May 2013
Juste de l'émotion pure....
Romain Da Costa
31 March 2013
Très bel endroit chargé d'émotions... Lieu de passage obligé si visite de la région. A montrer un jeunes générations. Attention, fermeture à 17h.
Olivier Coredo
3 September 2011
Un lieu chargé d'histoire
Max Pesciarolo
15 August 2015
Bellissimo e molto toccante. Da vedere assolutamente.
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0.6km from Route du Capitain Joe Dawson, 14710 Colleville-sur-Mer, France

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