Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Manila American Cemetery, a Memorial to Partnership and Sacrifice

During a recent trip to the Philippines, I had an opportunity to visit the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. It stands as a somber remdinder of the ultimate sacrifice thousands made during World War II to guarantee the security of the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific.

Many family and friends of those buried and remembered here routintely make their way to the cemetery to pay their respects to loved ones who never made it home. The cemetery also serves as a reminder of the long standing partnership between the U.S. and the Philippines, that is as relevant today as it was when those who are remembered here fought and died.

The cemetery contains the largest numbers of graves of our military dead from World War II outside the U.S. A total of 17,202, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines were buried in the cemetry with another 36,285 names of missing inscribed on limestone tablets.

Among those names are 28 Medal of Honor recipients and the five Sullivan brothers of Iowa, who perished when the ship they were aboard, the USS Indianoplis, was sunk by a Japanese submarine torpedo attack.

The chapel, a white masonry building enriched with sculpture and mosaic, stands near the center of the cemetery, which spans 152 acres. Twenty-five mosaic maps recall the achievements of the American armed forces in the Pacific, China, India and Burma. From the memorial and other points within the cemetery there are impressive views over the lowlands to Laguna de Bay and towards the distant mountains.

The cemetery is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except December 25 and January 1. It is open on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty in the Visitor Building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.

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