State committeewoman, Sara Sellers, to visit Europe

By Abby Morris
STAR STAFF
amorris@starhq.com

  
State Committeewoman for the Republican Party, Sara Sellers, of Elizabethton, will spend part of her holiday season making sure the memories of others are not forgotten.
   Sellers, a retired Chief Master Sergeant from the United States Air Force, serves on the American Battle Monuments Commission and will be traveling throughout Europe next week to inspect cemeteries and monuments of American soldiers who died on foreign soil.
   The ABMC is an 11-member committee appointed by the President that is responsible for designing, constructing, operating and maintaining American military burial grounds in the United States and in foreign countries.
   "We help commemorate the sacrifices and achievements of the United States armed forces," Sellers said. "We go to the cemeteries to ensure the dignity and upkeep of the cemeteries."
   The ABMC oversees 27 burial grounds and monuments in a total of 15 countries, including France, Italy, the Philippines and Mexico. Presently, there are 124,913 U.S. war dead buried at these cemeteries.
   One of the places that Sellers has visited while a member of the ABMC is Normandy, France. "I went to Normandy last year and it was very touching," she said. "It's so emotional. You stand there and see all of those white crosses with the names on them."
   Sellers, who had seven brothers who returned home safely from service as well as her father, said that seeing all of the graves at Normandy really brought forth a lot of emotions.
   "I could have cried the whole time I was there, but I had to keep my dignity because I was representing the United States," she said. "But when my husband picked me up from the airport I broke down and cried."
   Sellers, a native of Old Butler, joined the USAF in 1951 after graduating from Happy Valley High School and retired in 1981 with 30 years of service.
   On this particular trip, Sellers will be visiting seven sites in England, Luxembourg and Belgium and will be gone for eight days. "I was supposed to go to the Netherlands, but they've had a bomb scare so I'm not sure what is going to happen now," Sellers said.
   Belgium is home to three cemeteries and memorials operated by the ABMC, Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial, Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial, and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial.
   Ardennes is the final resting place for 5,328 soldiers from WWII, many of whom fought in the Battle of the Bulge. The site, which is situated on 90 acres, also houses a memorial building which includes granite plaques with the names of 462 American soldiers who gave their lives but whose remains were never recovered or identified.
   At Flanders Field, 368 Americans were laid to rest during World War One. The site sits on a six acre field and is also home to a chapel in which the names of 43 soldiers whose remains were never recovered or identified are inscribed on the walls.
   Henri-Chapelle occupies 57 acres and is the site for the interment of 7,989 American dead. The WWII memorial on site commemorates the names of 450 American soldiers who lost their lives nearby but whose remains were never identified or recovered.
   England is the home to two similar cemeteries - Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial and the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial.
   Brookwood is a WWI monument that rests on four-and-a-half acres and is where 468 American soldiers were laid to rest. A chapel at Brookwood has the names of 563 soldiers listed as "missing in action" inscribed on the walls.
   Cambridge rests on 30-and-a-half acres and is the final resting place for 3,812 American soldiers. Along the wall that links the entrance of the WWII memorial to the chapel on the grounds are inscribed the names of 5,126 soldiers whose remains were never recovered or were not identified.
   A WWII monument in the Netherlands, the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, occupies 65 acres. A total of 8,301 soldiers were laid to rest here and an additional 1,723 were commemorated on a memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives but whose bodies were never recovered or were not identified.
   The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, located in Luxembourg, is a WWII memorial that is the home to the graves of 5,076 of American soldiers. The site, which rests on 50 acres, also includes a memorial to 371 American soldiers who were interred in graves marked as "unknown."