David M. Olson (World Languages and Cultures) has been offered the position of assistant to the superintendent of the American World War I, Meuse Argonne Cemetery and Memorial. It is the largest American World War I or II cemetery in Europe with more than 14,000 graves. Located approximately 40 kilometers northwest of Verdun, France, it is one of 26 cemeteries operated by the American Battlefield Monuments Commission around the world.
While Olson, a French major, will be escorting present-day family members of fallen soldiers and also guiding visitors, it is important to note that this cemetery, as well as all other WWI monuments and cemeteries, originally were designed for the mothers and spouses of the fallen. To provide them the fullest understanding of what transpired, the American commander, General Pershing, ensured that each of them was offered, at government expense, an opportunity to travel to the battlefield where their loved one had fallen. He also directed the construction of a series of cemeteries where the accounts of battles are presented on large, wall-mounted mosaic maps. Also, on each major battlefield, monuments of sufficient height were built (for example, 230 feet at Montfaucon) so as to provide the visitor with a panoramic view of the battlefield.