Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

James Siekmeier

Committee Co-Chair

Joshua Arthurs

Committee Member

Melissa Bingmann

Committee Member

Jason Phillips

Committee Member

Kurt Piehler


Although often not viewed as such, a nation's collective memory has use in international relations. The United States left some one-hundred thousand military remains interred in European soil following World War I and World War II, the majority of these in France. Instead of resting in a symbolic void, the memory of American military dead abroad became a means for the living to articulate contemporary foreign policy goals. Elements of the American war memory abroad remained consistent through the twentieth century: sacrifice for a free Europe, fear of radicalized revolutions, and Franco-American friendship. Yet, beneath the formulaic memory lingered evolving motives for remembering. The memory also reflected both American and French domestic politics. Memories of military remains became safe ground for Americans and French to engage with each other in times of peace and conflict. Thus, analysis of the evolving memory assigned to American military bodies abroad helps inform broader diplomatic strategies. In the absence of U.S. military abroad following WWI, the United States strategically chose locations to leave a military presence abroad through war remains. The bodies signified a commitment to Western Europe and the similar ideals of the American and French Revolutions. Following WWII, the memory of aspiring power was replaced by a memory of real power. Through the Cold War, the tone of America's war memories in France changed as French perceptions of U.S. power altered.