Danielle Prostrollo and Don Allen
This past Memorial Day, Danielle and I had the privilege of attending the service at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial at Madingley. The cemetery itself is beautifully cared for and the service a fitting tribute to those who rest there.
The service included remarks from Suzie Harrison, cemetery superintendent Rich Cobb, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire Julie Spence, Chaplain Wright, and Major General Timothy G Fay. They spoke of the relationship between America and Great Britain as one of strength and affection.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Friendly Invasion a plane from RAF Lakenheath completed a flyby, with another plane flying over the cemetery to drop poppy petals. Those in attendance watched silently as the petals fluttered over the grave sites.
Reflecting on Memorial Day:
Danielle: Being in East Anglia, it continues to resonate with me just what impact the American airmen had, not just on the War but continuing in the area. It is clear that while the British forces had been fighting long before America joined the war, the locals embraced the ‘friendly invasion’ and that fondness has resonated through the years – so many times I’ve sat waiting for the bus only to strike up a conversation with a local about how their mom used to go to all the dances at the American airfields or how the American’s always had a piece of candy to give the kids. This is the kind of American I hope to be, one that can help create happy and contented memories even in the most uncomfortable or scary of times.
Don: I got particularly emotional with Maj. General Fay’s remarks. He spoke of the bond between America and the United Kingdom that was forged in WWII and the enduring friendship between our two nations. It was when he spoke of the soldiers who had written their names into the ceiling of the Eagle Pub in Cambridge that I was most affected. Both American and British soldiers are represented on that ceiling, not all of who made it home. Sitting next to all those graves of Americans who had made the ultimate sacrifice, it made me think of the 3,812 who were buried there, and the 5,127 names on the Wall of the Missing, and I am unashamed to say I cried. These heroes, the vast majority of whom were a decade younger than I am now, died so that I could live in the world I do today. The event also reminded me of how few of the heroes who lived through the war are still with us. It is now 2017, and even the youngest of them are now in their 90s. So it is more important than ever, when you come across a WWII veteran, to thank them for their service. To let them know that their heroism, their sacrifice and those of their comrades are not, and never will be, forgotten. They, along with their UK counterparts and fellow soldiers from many different countries, made the world a better place. And I thank them with all my heart.