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Throwback Thursday – 1920: Knights of Columbus visit the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, Belleau, France


“At the American cemetery at Romagne, … Supreme Knight [Flaherty] laid a floral wreath at the foot of the American flagstaff …” was the report of the October, 1920, Columbiad (the predecessor to Columbia).

The Knights’ 1920 Pilgrimage made a six-week “spiritual and patriotic” tour of France and Italy. They visited the locations the American troops fought; met with French clergy who had endured the war’s horrors; delivered their gift of an equestrian statue of General Lafayette to his hometown of Metz; had an audience with Pope Benedict XV and attended Mass celebrated by His Holiness in the Vatican Gardens.

Today the cemetery is maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Adjacent to Belleau Woods, it holds 14,246 graves and commemorates an additional 954 Americans lost during the 47-day Meuse-Argonne Offensive and in North Russia (“Polar Bear Expedition”). It is the largest American cemetery in Europe.

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