|Montfaucon merits its own special mention. The largest memorial of World War One was placed at Montfaucon (Mount of the Falcon) deliberately, as this location was the first major height that needed to be taken in order to oust the Germans from France and end the dreadful trench warfare that had plagued the country since 1914. The memorial at Montfaucon is “the most imposing American monument in Europe,” according to the American Battle Monuments Commission This monument commemorates the American contribution and victory in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, the largest U.S. offensive in history (September 26-November 11, 1918). This monument pays homage to General Pershing, whose statue sits atop of this memorial. Visitors can walk up to the top of the memorial to get an impressive view of the terrain in the area of the Meuse-Argonne. I slowly dragged myself up the spiral staircase to the top of the monument---sort of a miracle with no cartilage in my right knee---and could then see out across the countryside in all directions. Easy to imagine why the ground was so coveted. The battle for this hill was going on at the time that Grandpa was wounded. His train would have been visible from atop this hill.
Also on the site are the ruins of a bombed out monastery, complete with a German machine-gun nest built into the ruins.
Finally, I want to share a couple of before and after photos of the place where we stopped for lunch today in the village of Romagne. The black and white photo shows the damage from the war, while the color photo is the way it looks today. Jean-Paul De Vries is a Dutchman who owns the cafe where the umbrellas are shown. He has lived in the area since the 1960s and has amassed a huge collection of debris from the Meuse-Argonne battle that he's picked up while scouring the nearby fields. He's put together an impressive museum, for which he charges no admission since he feels he owes it to the dead to keep the memory of the war alive. His cafe supports the museum. Every tour guide in France knows him, as does Iain, and he makes it a point to come out and greet each tour and thank them for coming.