"Any fool can make history, but it takes a genius to write it."
Oscar Wilde

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Cemetery Theory

Hello readers! I just returned from two weeks in the wilds of New Mexico. I was doing a backpacking trip with my Boy Scout Troop out in Philmont Scout Ranch, a legendary piece of property within the BSA.
Anyway, I checked my email and found this spectacular comment to one of my blog posts:

"I recently stumbled across your blog while researching the American Normandy Cemetery. I'm certainly impressed with the quality of your writing and of your thoughts. Keep it up!

That said, I wanted to leave my comment where the post was most relevant, even if several months old. I'm actually looking for an answer, and maybe someone as drawn to history as yourself can shed some light on this curious enigma: when I visited Normandy Cemetery, it came to my attention (as far as I could discern on my walk through the gravesite and from subsequent attempts to discover an explanation) that no Muslims were buried there. An official website states that only crosses and Stars of David act as gravestones (and, if it is relevant, the graves all face the direction of the U.S., "looking home," as it were) but remains eerily silent and unspecific on the "all others" (presumably with respect to faiths) marked beneath "stylized Latin crosses": http://www.abmc.gov/commission/history.php
It is my conjecture that "all others" is limited solely to denominations of Christianity, and also to soldiers who professed no religious affiliation.

Yet it remains a certainty that Muslim-Americans fought in WWII. Where are they buried, if not here, and why on a separate site?"

Well, I am hardly qualified to answer such a question, however, one can always have a theory. In 1945, Germany, Russia, and America were on the world's radar. For sure, these three countries are primarily Christian. The Jewish 'crosses' were probably placed in the cemetaries for various reasons, but one of the most relevant would probably be the fact that millions of Jews had just been killed, and the last thing any country wanted to do was to disrespect their faith in cemeteries. If a religon had just suffered a genocide, those of that faith are going to be buried with all rights pertaining to that religon.
I cannot really explain why those who planned the cemetery didn't simply place a Muslim wing in the cemetary itself, or just mingle the Muslim gravestones with the others. However, after even further research, I found that there is actually a cemetery where Muslims and Christians are buried together. It still doesn't really explain why the main American Cemetery doesn't have a Muslim wing, but... there is a seperate Muslim Cemetery somewhere in Normandy:

If you want a better answer than my theory, you should probably contact the Muslim American Veterans Association. They are a pretty big group and take part in such events as honoring the gravestone of a Muslim Sergeant who was killed in Normandy. If you are interested, here is the link to the site: http://www.mavapost2.com/.