Those brave soldiers that join the military risk their lives every day to protect our freedom. Sometimes, we, unfortunately, take that for granted. I visited the Cambridge American Cemetery to pay my respects and learn more about the history. It was definitely a moving experience. Let me tell you more about what we saw during our visit and why you should consider adding it to your itinerary when you come to Cambridge.
Cambridge American Cemetery Logistics
The Cambridge American Cemetery is free to visit and there is plenty of parking. It is located a 10-minute drive outside of Cambridge and unfortunately not accessible by public transportation. The Cambridge American Cemetery is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Visiting the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial
I stood by the flagpole and looked over the lawn. All I could see were graves. I decided to walk closer and then I noticed that not all the graves were crosses. I saw some that were the Star of David. The cemetery contains the remains of 3,812 soldiers, most who died in Battle of the Atlantic or in other missions over northwest Europe.
Walls of the Missing
On the south side of the mall, across the reflecting pools, you will find the Walls of the Missing. The 5,127 names recorded on the wall are more than the number buried in the Cambridge American Cemetery. I just can’t imagine what all the families went through.
Also, be sure to check out the visitor’s center which was newly redone in 2014. The staff there are happy to answer questions and have access to the Cambridge cemetery records. There are some great exhibits about World War II. To start, there is a short introductory film. For all you history lovers, there are also touch-screen kiosks where you can learn more about the Battle of the Atlantic, the Strategic Bombing Campaign, and the story of Americans in Great Britain during World War II.
In the back of the visitor center, you can read the stories of a few of those that are buried or memorialized at the American Cemetery in Cambridge. One of those featured was Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., Lieutenant, U.S. Navy Reserve, the brother of the late President John F. Kennedy. On August 12, 1944, his plane exploded while on a mission from England against a German rocket site in France. His name is on the Wall of the Missing. I was really moved by reading the stories that they shared about some of the missing and dead. It just made me think about all the individuals that have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The chapel is at the other end of the mall from the visitor’s center. The doors are quite impressive, I really liked the military artwork. At first, we weren’t sure if it was open because we had a little trouble with the door. The chapel itself is small with impressive artwork throughout, even some on the ceiling. The map on the wall was informative and artistic as well. There were also windows with the names of each state. We took a few minutes to locate the Texas one.
Visiting the Cambridge American Cemetery was a very moving experience. When you think of what the families went through it just tugs at your heart. And to put things in perspective, the Cambridge American Cemetery pales in size compared to Arlington National Cemetery where 400,000 are buried. I haven’t had a chance to visit Arlington Memorial Cemetery yet, but hopefully on my next trip to Washington DC.
Especially with Memorial Day coming up, I would love to hear how you show your appreciation to those that have served their country.
Expert Tips for the Cambridge American Cemetery
- The Cambridge American Cemetery is not accessible by public transportation, so you will need to either drive or take a taxi. It may be difficult to fit in your itinerary if you are only visiting Cambridge for one day.
- Don’t miss the individual stories at the back of the visitor’s center, I found them very moving.
- There is no admission charge and the Cambridge American Cemetery is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
- While you are in Cambridge, you should also try punting on the Cam.