Monday, November 10, 2008

The Pyrrhic Monument at Meuse-Argonne

Just east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon (Meuse), France, more than 14,000 Americans lie in repose. The place is Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial, maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission. It is the largest American cemetery in France, covering more than 130 acres. It is also one of the largest monuments to the uselessness of World War I.

Most of the 14,000 or so souls here were killed in a single 47-day long slaughter known as the Meuse-Argonne offensive or the Battle of the Argonne Forest. Nearly 1.2 million (yes, that's right) U.S. soldiers took part in this now-obscure battle and more than 26,000 of them were killed. The battle, America's bloodiest, took place between September 26 and November 11, 1918. That a battle that took so many lives could be so little recalled is a shame.

As a result of the obscurity of this battle, the last Allied offensive of World War I, Meuse-Argonne Cemetery has few American visitors these days. And, after all, it has been ninety years since.

Perhaps the sheer beauty of the place somehow will compensate for the lack of visitors. (If a cemetery is built up in the middle of a forest, but nobody sees it . . . ?)

The cemetery and memorial were designed by the New York architectural firm of York & Sawyer. This internationally renowned firm also is credited with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; the headquarters of the Brooklyn Trust Company (now part of JP Morgan Chase); the Law Quadrangle at the University of Michigan; and the Old Royal Bank Building in Montreal. The firm's other cemetery work includes Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

On this 90th anniversary of the "War to End All Wars," let us take a moment to go through Meuse-Argonne Cemetery and recall those who lie here forever.

Click here for our virtual trip to Meuse-Argonne.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the history lesson and the lovely tribute.

Terry Thornton said...


Thanks for the article --- what an absolutely beautiful cemetery. Although I could not get your link to load on my computer, I searched Google for Meuse-Argonne Cemetery and went to the YourTube article linked there. Wonderful setting for such a sad set of memories.


Judith Richards Shubert said...

Such a beautiful place. Thank you so much.
Judy Richards Shubert

Jean B. Duncan said...

I was glad to read about this cemetery. My granduncle Harry Buzzell was killed in France during WWI and is buried her. I have the letters that he wrote home to his mother that she saved in an old stationary box.

Heather Dame said...

Great article - I was looking for information on my grandfather's uncle and who he is named after, Harry Buzzell, and this was very helpful in finding out information on the cemetery. He was very excited!