CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- "In proud remembrance of their valor."

Words incised into the façade of the memorial in Ardennes American Cemetery sum up Memorial Day and the comrades in arms it honors.

On May 27, the U.S. will observe Memorial Day, an annual observance honoring the military men and women who gave their lives in defense of our nation and its values.

Each year, thousands gather for Memorial Day ceremonies to honor these individuals in the Benelux.

More than 500,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces lost their lives during World Wars I and II. More than 14,000 are buried in Belgium and 8,000 in The Netherlands.

The Ardennes American Cemetery is unique among other cemeteries as it served as the central identification point for the entire European Theater of Operations from the last days of the war until 1960.

It was the point where deceased servicemen were brought to establish their identities. It is the final resting place for 5,317 Americans, with 65 percent of those being fallen airmen of the U.S. Army Air Forces. They came from almost every state in the Union as well as from the District of Columbia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the British West Indies.

Among the graves are 11 instances of two brothers buried side-by-side.

The graves of 792 of these war dead are marked with crosses that read "Here Rests in Honored Glory A Comrade in Arms Known But To God." The Tablets of the Missing record the names of 463 servicemen whose bodies were never recovered. Their headstones are aligned in straight rows that compose the form of a Greek cross.

Along the outside of the memorial, inscribed on granite slabs, are the names of 463 of the missing, whose remains were never recovered.

The Kingdom of Belgium provided the site of the Ardennes American Cemetery to the United States of America in perpetuity.

For more information on monuments and landmarks in the Benelux, visit the American Battle Monuments Commission website.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Belgium

- May 25 at 11 a.m. at Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupré, Belgium
- May 25 at 4 p.m. at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Plombières, Belgium
- May 26 at 3 p.m. at Flanders Field American Cemetery in Waregem, Belgium
- June 1 at 3:30 p.m. at the Mardasson in Bastogne, Belgium (organized by the city of Bastogne)

France

- May 26 at 9:45 a.m. Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France
- May 26 at 10 a.m. at Lafayette Escadrille Cemetery in Marnes-la-Coquette, France
- May 26 at 10 a.m. at Rhone American Cemetery in Draguignan, France
- May 26 at 10:30 a.m. at Epinal American Cemetery in Dinozé, France
- May 26 at 10:30 a.m. at Normandy American Cemetery in Normandy, France
- May 26 at 11 a.m. at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne-Sous-Montfaucon, France
- May 26 at 11 a.m. at Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint-Avold, France
- May 26 at 2:30 p.m. at Suresnes American Cemetery in Suresnes, France
- May 26 at 3 p.m. at Somme American Cemetery in Bony, France
- May 26 at 3 p.m. at Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in Seringes-et-Nesles
- May 26 at 4 p.m. at Saint-Mihiel American Cemetery in Thiaucourt-Regniéville, France
- May 26 at 4 p.m. at Brittany American Cemetery in Montjoie-Saint-Martin, France

Luxembourg

- May 25 at 2 p.m. at Luxembourg American Cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg The Netherlands
- May 26 at 3 p.m. at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, The Netherlands