How it all started
I visited my first overseas American Military Cemetery 25 years ago.
I visited my first overseas American military cemetery 25 years ago when I was backpacking through Europe and found myself in Normandy. I was moved by the experience and I captured this photo of the gravesite of Frank McNally. It has hung in my dining room ever since and is a constant reminder of the sacrifices American soldiers have made so that others could be free.
There are 26 American military cemeteries overseas, 14 dedicated to World War II burials.
I did not realize it at the time but Normandy is not the only American military cemetery overseas. In fact, there are 26 of them and 14 are dedicated to World War II burials. If you ever get a chance to visit one of these cemeteries, I would highly recommend it. I have visited eight of the WWII cemeteries and will soon visit all of them. Meticulously maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission (AMBC), these cemeteries are serene, inspiring places to visit. Here is a picture of the statue at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery near Anzio which I visited in 2009 while travelling with my family. The title of the statue is “Brothers in Arms”….
Brothers in Arms
At Anzio, I captured this spontaneous photo of two brothers who are also my sons, Max and Finn.
Fred & Edgar
Moving through the cemetery, we came across the burial markers of Fred and Edgar Wood, two brothers from Iowa who were buried side-by-side a long way from home. The ABMC had a policy of burying brothers side-by-side where they could. Any one who visits one of these American cemeteries and sees the rows and rows of crosses and Stars of David is struck by the magnitude of the tragedy people suffered. But as the father of three boys, I found the image of Fred and Edgar Wood buried next to each other to be especially poignant.
Someone should tell their story
I wondered at the time about Fred and Edgar Wood. Who were they? Where did they come from? And who was the mother or father or sibling who answered that door when the telegram arrived? I thought at the time that someone should tell their story and that is what the Brothers in Arms Project is all about.
Using resources from the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) , we have built a database of the more than 200 sets of brothers who are buried side by side in American WWII Cemeteries overseas. We are now in the process of researching these brothers, both their lives on the homefront and on the battlefront. In the end, we will produce a 200-300 page “Coffee Table” book featuring stories of the brothers and the photos, letters and mementos that will help bring their stories to life.