SEWARD — This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II (V-E Day, May 7, 1945).
As we look back and remember the courage and sacrifice of the “Greatest Generation,” let us look at the ultimate sacrifice of Nebraska National Guard soldiers of the 134th Infantry Regiment that are buried overseas, said Paul Calvert of the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward.
This summer, a delegation of Nebraskans will be making a trip to visit four cemeteries and pay their respects.
The cemeteries are: Normandy, Brittany, Lorraine and Luxembourg.
The American Battle Monuments Commission, an agency of the United States Government, operates and maintains 24 American cemeteries and 25 memorials, monuments and markers in 15 countries.
The Commission works to fulfill the vision of the first chairman, General of the Armies John J. Pershing. General Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War I, promised that “time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”
This summer, at each cemetery, the delegation will perform a wreath laying ceremony to honor their sacrifice. The ceremony will include music and the honor guard (members of the delegation) moving forward to place the wreath. Following the ceremony, members will visit each of the Nebraska soldiers of the NENG that are buried there.
The ABMC provides a unique service of “sanding” the graves prior to visiting. This is when sand from the Normandy beaches is used to fill in the letters to take photographs.
The delegation places flags and items at each grave as part of the visit. The updated photographs become part of the “Price of Freedom – Wall of Honor” Display at the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward.
A Coleridge native, Herman M. Hansen, is buried at the Luxembourg-American Cemetery, which is located near Ham, Luxembourg.
Hansen was a member of the Antitank Co., 134th Infantry Division. He and two other Nebraskans are buried at the site.
The Luxembourg Cemetery consists of 50.5 acres and contains 5,076 graves and the Tablets of the Missing (371 names).
The cemetery contains two major fountains overlooking three jet pools on descending levels on each side of the graves. The bronze dolphins and turtles in the pools symbolize Resurrection and Everlasting life.
The cemetery was dedicated July 4, 1960.
Normandy-American Cemetery is located off Omaha Beach near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. It is 173 acres and contains 9,387 graves and a Tablets of the Missing (1,557 names).
Orville W. Broders of Bloomfield is one of 27 Nebraskans buried at the cemetery.
The Memorial at the head of the cemetery features a 22-foot bronze called “The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves” facing west toward the headstones.
The cemetery was dedicated July 18, 1956.
Brittany-American Cemetery is located south-west of Mortain near the village of St. James, France. It is 28 acres and contains 4,408 graves and a Tablets of the Missing (498 names). Six Nebraskans are buried at this site.
The Memorial at the head of the cemetery features a sculpture called “Youth Triumphing over Evil” in Chauvigny limestone. The cemetery was dedicated on July 20, 1956.
Lorraine-American Cemetery is located near St. Avold, France. It is the largest American World War II cemetery in Europe (by gravestones). It is 113.5 acres and contains 10,487 graves and the Walls of the Missing (444 names). Fifteen Nebraskans are buried here, including, Ralph F. Hachmeier, who served with the Company A, 110th Medical Battalion.
The Memorial at the head of the cemetery has a tall figure of St. Nabor extending his blessing upon the Americans resting there.
The cemetery was dedicated July 19, 1960.
The NENG Museum is looking for sponsors of wreaths, flags and American items (pins, patches, etc…) for the trip this summer.
Anyone interested in helping to sponsor the trip to help remember the Nebraskan fallen of World War II can contact The Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward at 402-309-8763.
Please be advised that the NENG Museum is closed to the public until May 11. Staff is on site to answer questions via phone or social media (Facebook: Nebraska National Guard Museum).