attend the international ceremony in Hochfelden, France and
lay a wreath at the monument marking the gravesite of WWII
John Grant Rahill. The town of Hochfelden established and maintains
in memory of all who died in the battles of the
area. The ceremony takes place near the date of our Memorial
Day each year.
ceremony dates back to 7 June 1953 when the monument to
American soldiers lost in France was dedicated at the site of
the Hochfelden cemetery at the grave of LT John Rahill. LT
Rahill was killed during a German mortar attack on Dec 2, 1944
when he was just 20 years old. At the conclusion of the war,
Lt Rahill's mother, Mrs Clara Rahill sent a letter simply
addressed to "The Mayor of Hochfleden, France" in the hopes of
learning any details of her son's grave site. Mrs Lilly Haag,
the wife of the mayor of Hochfelden, responded and ensured Mrs
Rahill that her son was being well cared for by grateful
Alsatians at a beautiful site on the outskirts of Hochfelden.
In 1949, the US
government planned to close the Hochfelden Military Cemetery
and transfer the remains of the 1,000 soldiers buried there to
either a nearby permanent cemetery in St Avold or return them
to the United States. Mrs Rahill and Mrs Haag once again
worked together to ensure LT Rahill's remains would not be
a letter writing campaign that involved some of the most
powerful men in France and the US, including General Dwight D
Eisenhower and French General Maurice Force. With the support
of these two men, both governments agreed to turn over the
responsibility of caring for the remains of LT Rahill in
perpetuity to the town of Hochfelden.
A civic organization, Alsace Reconnaissante a'lAmerique
(Alsace is Grateful to America) raised funds for a special
monument. June 7th, 1953 the monument to American soldiers
lost in France was dedicated at the site of Hochfelden
Cemetery and the grave of LT John Rahill.
A Memorial Ceremony has been held every year since then and
commemorates all American sacrifices for the liberation of
France from Nazi Germany in WWII.