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Finding a piece of home abroad

Letter-to-the-Editor-698x408

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Editor, Index-Tribune:

I am searching for as many of the stories of the 218,000 U.S. soldiers who are buried overseas, within 24 cemeteries, as I can find. I started working on Oklahoma, my home state, but have decided to try and help find as many as I can due to the lack of time available.

There are 885 soldiers from World War I, and 10,662 soldiers from World War II, buried or listed on the walls of the missing for California.

This number is way too large for me to try and search archives in any shape or form. I am also not looking for archives from the newspapers. I want the family members of the soldiers to contact me with the information they have.

I began this quest four years ago when I started searching for the stories of the Oklahoma soldiers who are buried overseas. When I visited a Normandy cemetery and walked up to an Oklahoman’s grave, I gave him a rose rock and found about twenty others that day. When I went back, I visited the 144 Oklahoma soldiers in the cemetery and gave all of them a rose rock.

I paid a visit to all 23 American cemeteries located around the world where the soldiers from my state are buried. I spent six months traveling through Europe, North Africa, the Philippines and Hawaii, where I placed more than 2,000 Oklahoma rose rocks at the graves of the soldiers.

It has been hard work, but I realized that if I didn’t do this that no one would and these men would not have a piece of Oklahoma with them.

More recently, I expanded the search for as many of the stories as I could find of soldiers from all around the United States.

So far, I have gathered about 50 stories, some only partially complete, of WWI and WWII members of the military from Oklahoma.

I am now in the process of looking for stories of soldiers from other states. I have decided to find one story from each state for each of the 23 cemeteries located overseas and in Hawaii. I know that if the stories are fading here in Oklahoma, they are fading all around the U.S.

The stories I collect will be shared with each soldier’s cemetery so that others passing through them can hear the tales and histories of these honorable men.

I have found that the best way to find family members of the fallen soldiers is through the newspapers.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I can be reached via email at apieceofhomeusa.com, or on Facebook.

Michael Beach

Norman, Okla.