Bob Madore, now 74, was born into a world at war, and was only a toddler when that war took the life of his father. Army Pfc. Harvey Madore, a native of Cyr Plantation who attended school in Augusta, was killed in France in 1945. His remains stayed there, too, something that didn’t always sit well with the younger Madore.

“I felt a little anger that he was buried there, but that dissipated and went away when we went to (see the grave),” Bob Madore said last week during a Memorial Day event at Maranacook Community High School. “I realized he was with his buddies in a beautifully kept place.”

That place is Epinal American Cemetery, one of 25 American military cemeteries maintained in foreign countries by the American Battle Monuments Commission, along with 27 federal memorials, monuments and markers.

In all, the ABMC oversees the final resting place for 207,603 Americans killed in the two world wars, as well as memorials for more than 10,000 individuals missing from the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

It’s a sober reminder that in war, some soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines don’t come back alive, and some don’t come back at all, an additional price that some families pay for our freedom.

It is also a testament to the relationship between the U.S. military and the communities it has helped free across the world, and a warning of the carnage that war brings.

The ABMC was created following World War I and given the responsibility for handling the more than 116,000 Americans who died in Europe during the conflict. Families were given the choice of having the remains of their loved ones returned to the U.S. or buried in an American military cemetery abroad; around 30 percent chose to keep the remains in Europe.

Following World War II, the ABMC once again set out to honor Americans killed overseas. As the Allies fought across Europe, Asia and Africa, suffering hundreds of thousands of casualities in the process, several hundred temporary burial grounds were formed in the heat of battle to handle the dead.

Many of these make-shift cemeteries, along with individual graves made out of necessity on the spot where a fighter fell, are still cared for by residents of nearby towns out of respect for what the U.S. military did for their region.

Ultimately, after the war, 14 permanent cemetery sites were built around the world.

Among them is Epinal, where Harvey Madore rests with 5,254 other Americans who helped free France and the rest of Europe from Nazi Germany. They are buried in the soil of the country they helped liberate, far from home but next to men who were fighting for the same cause.

And even though they are an ocean away, their sacrifice is not forgotten, just like all the other Americans who gave their lives in defense of our country.


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