By Sgt. Fay Conroy, 21st TSC Public AffairsJune 1, 2010
ROMAGNE-SOUS-MONTFAUCON, France - Despite the gray skies and heavy rain, Soldiers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's Special Troops Battalion traveled to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial May 30 to take part in a Memorial Day ceremony here.
The 21st STB provided a ceremonial firing detail, an honor platoon, and a color guard for the ceremony.
Located near the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, the cemetery is the final resting place for 14, 246 Soldiers, most of whom lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne offensive of World War I. The cemetery has the largest number of American military dead in Europe and covers more than 130 acres.
"Here, at Meuse-Argonne, every headstone and memorial plaque testifies to the enormous sacrifices our Nations have paid in the defense of these values more than 90 years ago," said Maj. Gen. Patricia E. McQuistion, the commanding general of the 21st TSC, who gave the memorial address at the ceremony.
"As an American and a Soldier, I am indebted to all who came here today and any day of the year to pay tribute to those who have given their lives for the ideals and values we cherish," she said.
The ceremony concluded with a wreath laying ceremony, the playing of taps and a ceremonious volley of rounds from the firing detail.
"It was overwhelming, especially in the beginning," said Spc. Shannelle Santiago, a postal clerk with Human Resources Sustainment Center-Europe, 21st TSC. "When they started playing taps that's when it registered that these Soldiers did give their lives and that they still have family members out there who are still mourning them even though they can't be here today to celebrate Memorial Day with them."
For Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Cornelius, the 21st STB training noncommissioned officer in charge, the ability to celebrate Memorial Day in the presence of so many fallen Soldiers was one he said he will not forget.
"It was absolutely breathtaking. I really felt like I was on sacred ground," he said of his first trip to the cemetery three weeks before the ceremony. "It really felt special to be a part of this whole event."
After the ceremony, the 21st TSC Soldiers marched into town accompanied by a formation of French Soldiers who also took part in the event. French citizens waving American and French flags lined the parade route to cheer the troops. A reception was held at the end of the parade route to thank the participants.
The Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year round, except Jan. 1 and Dec. 25. More information can be found at the Meuse-Argonne's official site at http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ma.php.