image-slideshow
left-pagerright-pagerPhoto by Christopher Sims
image-slideshow
left-pagerright-pagerPhoto by Christopher Sims
image-slideshow
left-pagerright-pagerPhoto by Christopher Sims

Flanders Field American Cemetery Commemoration

April 6, 2017: The 100th Anniversary of the American Entry into World War I

To coincide with the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, Flanders Field American Cemetery in the town of Waregem hosted a ceremony on April 6, 2017. This special ceremony as well as the dedication of the renovated visitor center were coordinated by the ABMC in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy in Brussels. Speakers included Superintendent Christopher Arseneault, Chargé d'affaires ad interim USA, Mr. Matthew R. Lussenhop, Mayor of Waregem, Mr. Kurt Vanrycheghem, and Director Overseas Operations ABMC, Paris, France, Mr. John Wessels.

April 6, 2017: The 100th Anniversary of the American Entry into World War I

Congress declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, formally bringing the United States into World War I, a conflict that had been ongoing for nearly three years. When the war began in 1914—pitting the Allied powers of France, Great Britain and Russia against Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire—most Americans simply wanted to keep out of the conflict. The fighting was taking place oceans away, and since the United States was not directly threatened, many Americans felt there was little to gain by entering the war. The American diplomatic perspective of avoiding “entangling alliances,” which had existed since the founding of the United States, supported that mindset.

President Wilson asked Congress for a Declaration of War, and got one on April 6, 1917. Wilson characterized the war he had tried so hard to avoid as a “war to end war” and an endeavor to “make the world safe for democracy”. The American people had come together to support this great endeavor, and were more united than ever before.

About the Flanders Field American Cemetery

The Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium occupies a 6.2-acre site. Masses of graceful trees and shrubbery frame the burial area and screen it from passing traffic. At the ends of the paths leading to three of the corners of the cemetery are circular retreats, with benches and urns. At this peaceful site rest 368 of our military dead, most of whom gave their lives in liberating the soil of Belgium in World War I. Their headstones are aligned in four symmetrical areas around the white stone chapel that stands in the center of the cemetery.

The altar inside the chapel is made of black and white Grand Antique marble with draped flags on each side; above it is a crusader's sword outlined in gold. The chapel furniture is made of carved oak, stained black with white veining to harmonize with the altar; 43 names are inscribed on the Walls of the Missing.

Watch the ABMC video "Flanders Field: Remembering Their Sacrifice".