The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer is a powerful symbol of sacrifice and bravery. As the final resting place for American soldiers who lost their lives during the D-Day landings and subsequent operations in World War II, the site holds profound significance.
Location and Overview
Nestled in the picturesque town of Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy, France, the cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach, one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion, and the English Channel. It covers 172.5 acres and is maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission.
The cemetery was established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944, as the first American cemetery in Europe during World War II. It was officially dedicated in 1956. The majority of those buried here lost their lives in the D-Day landings and subsequent operations.
The cemetery is home to the graves of 9,388 service members, marked by white Lasa marble headstones. The headstones are inscribed with the names, rank, regimental insignia, state of enlistment, date of death, and in many cases, the date of birth of the service member. Latin crosses mark the graves of Christian soldiers, and Stars of David mark those of Jewish soldiers.
Adjacent to the cemetery, the Memorial consists of a semicircular colonnade with a loggia at each end containing large maps and narratives of the military operations. At the center is a bronze statue titled “The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.” An orientation table overlooks the beach and depicts the landings at Normandy.
The Chapel and the Wall of the Missing
Inside the Memorial, a chapel adorned with mosaics pays tribute to the spirit and sacrifices of the soldiers. The garden and Wall of the Missing, located to the east of the Memorial, lists 1,557 names of soldiers who were never found or identified.
The Visitor Center provides an immersive experience for those wishing to delve deeper into the D-Day events and their historical context. It offers an extensive array of texts, photographs, films, and interactive displays that narrate the Normandy campaign.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial stands as a solemn tribute, a place where the echoes of history meet the silence of sacrifice. Each visit stirs profound emotions, stirring respect and gratitude for the brave souls who met their destiny on the sands of Normandy. More than a resting place for heroes, it serves as a vibrant educational resource, preserving and narrating the tales of courage and sacrifice to inspire and educate future generations.
Visit our Normandy overnight from Paris tour page for more information on visiting Omaha Beach and Colleville-sur-Mer.