The windswept crosses on the freshly mowed grasses of the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial stood proudly against the cloudless blue sky the afternoon I visited the iconic resting place of World War II Heroes in Fort Bonifacio. The place was generally empty but for a few tourists wandering around the place.
The American Battle Monuments Commission erected the cemetery in 1960 for the American, Filipino and other Allied Nations that fought with the US Forces during the Battle of the Pacific during the early 40’s. There are a total of 17,206 marble headstones, making this the largest cemetery for the casualties of war built by the commission.
Upon entering its huge wrought iron gates, visitors are immediately greeted with a vast view of the central arcade. On both sides, immaculate white marble crosses stretch as far as the eyes can see. At its end stands a tall mosaic-finished chapel. On the chapel's sides run a circular colonnade composed by the Wall of the Missing. Rectangular Trani limestone piers line the corridor where the names of 36,282 missing soldiers are inscribed.
The 152-acre memorial is already a designated spot for the tourist route in Metro Manila. Its sprawling field is also a haven for bird watchers as its majestic trees and grassy fields have become home to a variety of bird species.
The place is a pleasant area to ponder and contemplate things, with the environment and surroundings being real quiet. The whisper of the winds as it sweeps past the crosses and trees are the only perceivable sound you will hear. Even visitors, I reckon, feel the need to remain solemn as they respectfully pass by names upon names of war heroes that sacrificed their lives for freedom that our generation relishes.
A day at the memorial ends at five in the afternoon with a soldierly echo of a trumpet being sounded off as the Philippine and American flags are ceremoniously lowered down. The lengthening shadows of the crosses on the soft emerald grass and the sinking rays of the sun signalling the end of the visits for the day.
The Memorial opens from 9:00am to 5:00pm from Mondays to Sundays except on December 25 and January 1.