In 1923, in the wake of World War I, Congress established the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). This independent agency assumed control of commemorative activities begun by the Battle Monuments Board of the War Department. Together with the Office of the Quartermaster General and the Commission of Fine Arts, the ABMC established and maintains overseas commemorative cemeteries and memorials that honor the service, achievements and sacrifice of U.S. Armed Forces.
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The Cartographic and Architectural Branch of the National Archives holds plans for twenty-six World War I and World War II military cemeteries in the series RG 117 Maps and Plans of U.S. Battle Monuments and Cemeteries, 1921 – 1969, NAID 646781 and RG 66 Maps and Plans of American Cemeteries in Europe , 1910 – ca. 1952 NAID 643577 . Plans include proposal drawings as well as “as-built” plans.
Proposals by John Russell Pope for an American Battle Monument at Montfaucon, with sketches by O.R. Eggers, 1926
By World War II, the memorial design concept had evolved to consistently include basic features such as a chapel, flag pole and museum exhibit. Plans include concept sketches, proposals, original constructions and plans used in ongoing maintenance. In addition, there are plans from rebuilding projects for memorials commemorating World War I that were destroyed by the Nazis in World War II, such as the Naval Monument in Brest, France.
Plans for the WWI Naval Memorial in Brest, France
Plans for rebuilding the WWI Naval Memorial in Brest, France, destroyed during WWII
To learn more about the history of and services offered by the ABMC, including their Memorial Day observances, visit them online: https://www.abmc.gov/