Flanders Field American Cemetery Chapel Dedication in 1937

<p>The Flanders Field American Cemetery Chapel dedication is one of thirteen segments featured in the &quot;America Honors Her Heroes&quot; film. The film is the Official Record of the Dedication Ceremonies in 1937 at the American World War Memorials and Cemeteries in Europe. It was taken under the auspices of the American Battle Monuments Commission.</p>

Video Transcript

NARRATOR: The chapel at the Flanders Field Cemetery, the only American military cemetery in Belgium, is dedicated in the presence of distinguished Belgian officials, the official delegation of the United States, American and Belgian war veterans, and a large gathering of people from the surrounding country, to whom this American cemetery is very dear. The arrival of Premiere Van Zeeland, Ambassador Gibson, Lieutenant General Denis, the Honorable Henri Baels, Governor of the Province of West Flanders, Ambassador Daniels, members of the official delegation of the United States, and other distinguished guests.

NARRATOR: The Reverend Smith, Father O’Conner, and Rabbi Aaronson conduct the religious services. Father O’Conner is speaking.

FATHER O'CONNER: May we ask the blessings of Almighty God down upon us today. May we ask for that special favor and blessing, that blessing of true valor that marked the lives of these great people during their entire history.

NARRATOR: The principle address is delivered by Mr. Harry W. Colmery, the National Commander of the American Legion.

HARRY COLMERY: To dedicate this gemlike chapel is our high privilege indeed, and yet in a sense we cannot dedicate it because it has already been consecrated by the sacrifice of those who lie beneath its presence. Let us rather rededicate ourselves to bringing about that goal towards which we sought and for which we stood together 20 years ago, and towards which we now direct our efforts and in connection with which we now stand shoulder together, peace and mutual understanding and contentment for all the peoples throughout the world. May those of our comrades whose suffering, loss of limb, or health and reason, and who therefore bear the scars of battle which but for the grace of god might be ours. And may all of our citizenry know, that as we speak here, we revere the courage and the devotion of those who served our respective countries, and may this chapel here, and those who lie here, cement the lasting friendship and the mutual affection and devotion between the great people of the Belgian Kingdom and the people of the United States of America. Narrator: Lieutenant General Denis, Minister of National Defense for Belgium, pays tribute to the heroic services of the American soldiers in Belgium during the World War.

GENERAL DENIS: …Patriotism, in which (indiscernible) was above human power…

NARRATOR:The chapel is dedicated by the Honorable F. Ryan Duffy, United States Senator from Wisconsin, and a member of the official delegation of the United States.

F. RYAN DUFFY: Now it is my high honor as a representative of the American government and of the American people, to dedicate this chapel. The inscriptions are exceedingly appropriate. One in the front, “Greet them ever with grateful heart.” Another, “This chapel has been erected by the United States of America in memory of her soldiers who fought and died in Belgium during the World War. ” These graves are the permanent and visible symbols of the heroic devotion with which they gave their lives to the common cause of humanity. May the blessing of the eternal god rest upon this chapel to the end. That it may be a place of rest and comfort to those who mourn. And may those who lie here buried, in the mercy of god, rest in peace.

[applause]

NARRATOR: An act much appreciated is the singing the Star Spangled Banner in English by schoolchildren from the neighborhood.

[school children singing Star Spangled Banner]

NARRATOR: The talented Prime Minister of Belgium, his Excellency Paul Van Zeeland, makes an earnest plea for peace in a brilliant speech. Parts of which he speaks in English, French, and Flemish.

PRIME MINISTER VAN ZEELAND: This country gives us today as in the past, the example of a public opinion unanimous in its determination that this cause of peace shall ultimately prevail throughout the world. Peace, we know, by the very example of those who we honor today, we know it is not to be won by weakness or by hesitation… I want to tell their families, their friends, all those who love them, this-that no soil could be more worthy of their last sleep than the soil of Belgium, whose liberty, whose very existence, they gave their lives to save.

[applause]

NARRATOR: The ceremony ends as the troops parade to marching music.

[music plays]