A short drive from the busy, crowded streets of Makati in the Philippines lies the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial located in Global City, Taguig. With manicured lawns this tranquil memorial is quiet and reserved, demanding respect for those that claim this as a final resting place.
On Dec 7th 1941 simultaneous attacks on Pearl Harbor Hawaii and The Philippines led to war. For six months US Forces, made up of US Military, Philippine Military and Philippine Scouts, held off the Japanese until surrendering. On April 9th 1942 the remaining US Forces surrendered on Bataan and 76,000 prisoners, 12,000 of which were Americans, began a 65 mile march to a prisoner of war camp. Of the 30,000 Americans captured in The Philippines nearly 11,000 died in captivity. On July 5th 1945 The Philippines was liberated at a cost of another 14,000 Americans.
The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial is operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission which operates 24 cemeteries in various parts of the world. These cemeteries are the final resting place for thousands of American military that have died in previous wars.
The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial is the largest of the 24 both in area and in number of graves. 16,636 military dead from WWII rest here along with 570 Philippine Nationals who were serving with the US Forces. Additionally 32,520 Americans and 3,762 Philippine Nationals whose remains were never recovered or identified are inscribed in the walls of the memorial. There are 20 sets of brothers buried here and 29 recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The 152 acre cemetery and memorial is the responsibility of the American Battle Monuments Commission. The Philippine government and people granted use of the land in perpetuity.
Sitting on the marble benches in the memorial and looking up at the thousands of names inscribed in the walls is a humbling experience. Listed are men and women from every state and I also saw several whose listed home was China that served in the US Navy. Nurses, Medics, Artillerymen, Tankers, Infantry, Officers, Enlisted. They are all there in the walls. The graves are arranged in concentric rings around the Memorial and Mall. Solid white marble crosses with a simple inscription consisting of Name, Rank, Branch of Service, home State and date of death. In what could only be a million to one shot the very first cross I approached happen to be a relative of mine. To say I was a little shocked is an understatement. The Circular Mall surrounded by the names of the missing and the small chapel is open, quiet and reserved as you would expect.
Anyone wishing to visit the Manila American Military Cemetery and Memorial can find it located on McKinley Road, Global City, Taguig, Philippines. The cemetery is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except December 25 and January 1. It is open on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty in the Visitor Building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.