Vince Crawley's Africa Blog

Memorial Day in North Africa Echoes Past and Present Struggles for Freedom

Posted in Uncategorized by Vince Crawley on June 1, 2011

By Vince Crawley, U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs

CARTHAGE, Tunisia, May 31, 2011 — At a Memorial Day observance at the World War II cemetery in North Africa, the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia spoke of past and present sacrifices for freedom and of the sacrifices Tunisia’s people have made this year in their own democratic revolution; and General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, spoke of the link between today’s service members and those of the past.

CARTHAGE, Tunisia - General Carter Ham and U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Gordon Gray pay honors during a Memorial Day observance May 30, 2011, at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage, Tunisia. (Photo by Vince Crawley)

Flanked by U.S. and Tunisian military honor guards, with flags of both nations fluttering in the breeze from the nearby Mediterranean Sea and Gulf of Tunis, military and diplomatic officials gathered at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial on the outskirts of the ancient city of Carthage. The site is one of 24 overseas American burial grounds from past wars.

“This cemetery is the final resting place of heroes. They were part of our nation’s greatest generation,” Ham, the AFRICOM commander, said. “Buried here, they remain in our memories forever young. As you have heard: 2,841 service members and civilians laid to rest here, along with the names of 3,724 service members and civilians who are missing. They’re not just names. They’re our history. They’re our legacy.”

Americans serving in uniform today “are the proud inheritors of their legacy,” Ham said at the May 30 ceremony.

“Today, brave men and women are deployed around the world, doing what is asked of them to protect our interests at home and to support those who seek freedom,” Ham said. “Selfless sacrifice remains the hallmark of the American military. That was true in 1942 and remains true today.”

The U.S. Memorial Day is a time to honor those who have fallen while serving their nation. Ambassador Gordon Gray, the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia for the past four years, said it is “humbling” to remember that even today American military men and women who’ve lost their lives serving the nation “join their fellow heroes” at military cemeteries in the United States.

Gray noted that that Memorial Day observances originated after the American Civil War and that this year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of America’s bloodiest conflict, which resulted in the freeing of millions of enslaved Americans. (more…)