General George Smith Patton Jr. had survived two great wars, three battle wounds and dozens of narrow battlefield escapes. It seemed likely that he would be able to survive the terrible auto accident in Germany in early December which had broken his neck. Encased in a plaster cast, he fought back from the edge of death. But then, on Friday, December 21, 12 days after the accident, death came suddenly and peacefully. A lung clot killed "Old Blood and Guts" while he slept.
The body of General Patton was taken from the military hospital in Heidelberg to a mountain villa overlooking the old city. There it lay in state all day Saturday. Then his steel-gray, flag-covered casket was carried down a winding road to Heidelberg's Christ Church for a simple funeral ceremony. In a half-track that had helped spearhead Patton's brilliant drive through France, the coffin was carried to a special funeral train. Seventeen guns saluted him and, as the train doors closed, taps was blown by a GI whose division had been saved by Patton's Third Army in the Battle of the Bulge.
After a slow trip through the night the train eased into the city of Luxembourg. From the station the funeral cortege marched solemnly to an American military cemetery, followed by citizens of Luxembourg who trudged the four miles in bare-headed respect to their "liberator." Then, in the white-crossed cemetery whose rolling land General Patton's army had liberated only a year before, the soldiers' rifles volleyed crisply and the general was laid to rest.
The next day General Patton's widow, who only a few weeks before had planned to celebrate a Christmas furlough with her husband at home, returned from his funeral on Christmas Day alone.
On December 24, 1945, General George S. Patton Jr. was buried in the cemetery with full military honors. The cortege arrived at the cemetery at 10 a.m. Serving as Honor Guard was an American Battalion consisting of troops of the 1st Infantry Division, the 4th Armored Division, the 9th Infantry Division, and the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Group. Also serving as Honor Guard were troops from the146th and 151st French Infantry Regiments, and troops from the Luxembourg and Belgian Armies. When the convoy stopped before the burial Plot, six American Enlisted Men carried the casket to the grave as the band from the 3rd Army played the Generals March in slow time. Chaplain Colonel Carter officiated at the grave and after the prayers Mrs. Patton at the arm of Lieutenant General Keyes laid an armful of Luxembourg Roses near General Patton's casket. The American flag was folded by pallbearers and presented to Mrs. Patton. After the blessing the Firing Squad. fired the usual three volleys and the bugler blew taps.
The U.S. Army was represented by Generals MacNarney Burpee, Ross, W. B. Smith, Moses, Balmer, Halley, Nevius Summers and Colonel C.H. Reed. The U.S. Navy was represented by Vice Admiral Glassford. Other high ranking officers were present.
England was represented by Lieutenant General Thomas, Major General Marriott, Lieutenant Colonel Lambert, Lieutenant Colonel Taylor and Major Grieve.
Russia was represented by Lieutenant General Lukianchenko, Major General Kovlov, Colonel Skarin and Major Danton.
France was represented by Lieutenant General Koenig, Lieutenant General Dody, Colonel De La Brotesche and other Officers and Officials.
Belgium was represented by General Ceethels, Colonel Hougardy, Mr. Legrand and Major Berten.
Holland was represented by Colonel De Ruijter van Stevening and Capt. Van Euben.
Yugoslavia was represented by Lieutenant Colonel Polezina.
Czechoslovakia was represented by Major Pospizil/Inlichonsky.
Representing Luxembourg were:
H.R.H. Prince Felix
H.R.H. Hereditary Grand Duke Jean
The Bishop of Luxembourg, Monsignor Joseph Philippe
The Luxembourg Government, lead by Prime Minister Pierre Dupong
Numerous Members of Parliament
Representatives of the Supreme Court
The municipal authorities of Luxembourg City
The Anciens Combattants of World Wars I and II Representatives of Gendarmerie and Police
Many Luxembourg citizens assisted to the General's obsequies
I discovered a mistake in the name of one of the two (not three) Dutch representatives. The first name is: De Ruijter van Stevening and not De Ruijper, (and) Van Steubening.
Col. R. Warren Davis
Superintendent; 1946 - 1969
The little village of Hamm, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, lying between Germany, France and Belgium, took its hallowed place in American history on December 29, 1944, as the forces of the enemy made their last major bid for victory on the Western front and were met and defeated and thrown back by the Armies of the Allies.
The village is located approximately 4 miles east of Luxembourg City, capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The city is situated on jagged cliffs overlooking a tributary of the Sure River in the rugged Ardennes mountain region. The natural fortification of the city was first exploited by the Romans and through the centuries was developed into an impregnable strong point. The fortress was considered the strongest in Europe after Gibraltar until it was dismantled at the close of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.
The tiny duchy, a battleground throughout the ages, was invaded by the Germans in World Wars I and II. It is bounded by Belgium on the north and west, France on the south and Germany on the east.
On May 10, 1940, the Grand Duchy was invaded by German forces as they swarmed over the Lowlands and France and on August 30, 1942, the enemy announced the inclusion of the enslaved Luxembourg into the Third Reich.
The United States First Army, which had invaded France on June 6, 1944, pushed the enemy across France and Belgium, and on September 10, 1944, liberated the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg's liberty was threatened for a second time in World War II. On December 16, German tanks and troops poured over the Belgium-Luxembourg borders in the enemy's final major bid for victory on the Western Front, now known as The Battle of the Bulge.
To help repulse the enemy's surprise counter-offensive in the Ardennes, the U.S. Third Army swung northward from Metz region on December 19, 1944 to attack the enemy north of Luxembourg City on December 22, 1944. The counter-offensive was led by the Third Army's Tenth Armored Division, which began rolling in the direction of Luxembourg on December 17, 1944.
On December 26, 1944, the Third Army's Fourth Armored Division hurtled through the snow-clogged roads of Luxembourg to relieve the United States 101st Airborne Division besieged by German attackers at Bastogne, Belgium, approximately 32 miles northwest of Luxembourg City.
It was during the enemy's counter-offensive in the Ardennes that Hamm Cemetery was opened.
Amid the fierce fighting that raged in this region, the United States Third Army established Hamm Cemetery on December 29, 1944--just 13 days after the Germans had launched their counter-offensive in the Ardennes region.
The U.S. Military Cemetery at Hamm, Luxembourg, is located on a grassy hillside surrounded by dense woods 1.1 miles east of the village of Hamm and approximately four miles east of Luxembourg City.
In January 1945 operations at the cemetery were hampered by enemy long-range medium caliber projectiles of a new type that fell in and around the city of Luxembourg. In retaliation, Third Army artillery poured eight rounds into the enemy-held German city of Trier, located on the Moselle River, approximately 22 miles north-east of Luxembourg City, for every round that fell on the Grand Duchy's capital.
Even as the American Forces repulsed the enemy and drove fleeing remnants into Germany, operations were begun to develop Hamm Cemetery into a beautiful resting place of these who fell in the Luxembourg region. The natural beauty of Luxembourg readily lent itself to the development of the site.
Each grove was carefully laid out in a manner befitting the memory of American soldiers who died in the service of their country. White crosses and Stars of David were placed on the individual graves in keeping with the simple but dignified setting of the cemetery.
The cemetery was under the control of the Third Army throughout fighting in this region. With peace once more restored in the Ardennes, the cemetery, on April 1, 1945, was closed to further burials. Responsibility for its maintenance was taken over by Oise Intermediate Section of the United States Forces, European Theater of Operations.
Hamm cemetery was reopened several weeks later for the burial of bodies of Third Army troops recovered by Graves Registrations searching teams in the area in which Third Army had fought in driving the enemy into Germany proper.
Oise Intermediate Section continued in charge of Hamm Cemetery until shortly after hostilities ceased in Europe.
On July 1, 1945, the American Graves Registration Command took over the task of developing and caring for Hamm Cemetery and the other 36 United States Temporary Military Cemeteries of World War II in Europe.
The cemetery commenced operations on December 29, 1944, with the 609th QM Graves Registration Company, Captain James T. Passman, commanding. An additional 12 plots had to be added to the 20 already provided for at the cemetery. Personal from the 955 and 3142 QM Service Companies were used as laborers.
On April 1, 1945, the cemeteries were transferred to the 612 QM Graves Registration Company, Captain Roundtree, commanding. During this period the cemetery handled the remains evacuated from the Third Army by the 3048 and 3017 QM Graves Registration Companies.
On April 29, 1945, Detachment B, 3045 QM Graves Registration Company, relieved the 612 QM Graves Registration Company. Beautification was stressed due to the fourth coming Memorial Day Services. Plots were leveled, crosses were pointed, aligned, roads and walkways were constructed, and a flag pole erected.
On May 30, 1945, Memorials Day Services were held at this cemetery. The program was as follows:
Prelude (Band Music)
Call to Worship
Reading of Gospel
Wreath Ceremony: a) Firing of Volleys, b) Taps and Silver Taps
National Hymns (American and Luxembourg)
Postlude (Band Music)
Total burials as of July 31, 1945:
Residents of Luxembourg have spontaneously demonstrated their appreciation to the men who fought and died in defense of their freedom since establishment of the cemetery. They regularly visit the graves with offerings of flowers and prayers. Many Luxembourg holidays have been observed with special pilgrimages to Hamm Cemetery.
Memorial Day ceremonies have been conducted by the United States Army at Hamm Cemetery each year since 1945. These services have always been attended by the high-ranking officials, both military and civil, and the residents of the Grand Duchy. Many of the residents became acquainted with numbers of the American soldiers, now interred in Hamm cemetery, during the fighting in the region. Many have perpetuated this bond of friendship by personally caring for individual graves.
Military units represented in Hamm Cemetery:
The majority of the 8,411 Americans buried in Hamm Cemetery served in the United States Third Army, many of whom were members of the 4th, 5th, 26th, 28th, 35th, 76th, 80th, 87th, 90th, 94th and 95th Infantry Divisions and the 17th, and 101st Airborne Divisions.
Members of the United States Ninth Air Force who lost their lives in support of the Third Army's concerted effort to repel the Germans' counter offensive in the Ardennes are among the men interred there.
General George S. Patton, Commanding General of the famed Third Army during its memorable drive across Europe in World War II, lies among the men whom he led to victory. General Patton died of injuries suffered in an automobile accident in occupied Germany and was laid to rest in Hamm Cemetery on December 24, 1945.
July 1, 1945: US Military Cemetery Hamm, transferred to the 610th QM Graves Registration Company, Capt. Poole Rogers, commanding.
October 5, 1945: Cemetery honored by the visit of Major General Littlejohn and General Younger.
October 13, 1945: Mr. George Platt Waller of the U.S. Legation, in behalf of the Boy Scouts of America, presented a flag, to the Boy Scouts of Luxembourg. Prince Jean of Luxembourg addressed the Scouts. The ceremony took place at 3.00 p.m.
November 1, 1945: All Saints day was a national holiday in Luxembourg. A Detachment of Luxembourg Guards rendered hand salutes as members of the French and Belgian Legations and high officials in the Luxembourg Government presented wreaths at the flagpole. In the afternoon many Luxembourg civilians placed flowers and rendered services at graves they had adopted.
November 12, 1945: Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg presented a wreath, a Detachment of American Military Police acted as an escort.
As the time approached when the management of this cemetery must change hands, if seems proper for the incumbent Superintendent to record in reasonable detail the textual and photographic history of the installation for the information of his successor. The period 1944-1965 is covered here. It is hoped that the successor, and his successors in turn, will have further occasion to add to this history as the years go by.
As of this writing, the history of the Luxembourg American Military Cemetery appears to embrace four periods:
In mid-December 1944, as Third Army units under General Patton's command become engaged in the Ardennes operation, the need for a burial terrain become immediately apparent. Third Army's G-4 toured the region and selected this site because if provided such essential features as a self-draining slope to a terrain free of heavy growth; good road connections, comparative isolation while still close to a community offering adequate labor, supply and railway facilities.
A service detachment was assigned at once to prepare the grounds. Prefabricated structures were erected among the bordering trees: an office, which stood about where the terrace plaque is at present; the garage section, located fifty yards behind the present Plot C; a combined morgue and X-ray building near the present reservoir site. An ornamental gate near the actual northeast corner of Plot A was fabricated of rough-hewn birch trees and a sentry box was placed alongside. Primitive dirt roads interconnected these elements.
These facilities were not adequate for the administrative processing of the many remains brought here in the early phase of the counter-offensive. A staff of American and Luxembourger clerks was installed in the school building in Hamm to handle the records at this stage.
Burials were performed by labor troops, there being no mechanical equipment available or equipment leasingl Work was occasionally hampered by the bursting of German artillery shells fired from the Moselle and Trier areas.
When communications allowed, grave markers of oak were trucked from the Belgian Ardennes. Painting and stenciling were done here.
By about March 1946, the burial program was completed (8,412 graves) and efforts were then directed toward improving the appearance of the grounds. Some 150 prisoners-of-war were brought here daily from the stockade in Howald and they performed such tasks as the construction of an attractive chapel and an office building containing a simple, but comfortable visitor's lounge.
American labor troops and German prisoners worked together to lay the pathways among the (approximately) 24 rectangular plots existing at the time. For this single project, over nine hundred truckloads of coarse stone were hauled from the nearest source then in operation, a quarry near Esch-sur-Alzette.
On April 12, 1946, Mr. R. Warren Davis arrived on assignment from A.G.R.C. and become the first Superintendent of the cemetery. Officers and enlisted men were shifted progressively elsewhere, the POWs were also moved, and a local labor crew came into being.
During 1946-47, the main activities consisted of establishing lawns, planting flower beds, removing unneeded structures, improving roads and paths, and restoring those areas of the woods which had been damaged by military personnel and equipment.
The administrative staff continued to put all records in order, to establish grave locator files, and process numerous applications for grave adoption. The grave adoption program may have served some useful purpose, but human abuses were notable. In this community; for example, few asked to adopt a Protestant or Jewish grave, none adopted an unknown. Moreover, the only graves to be adopted at all were those where the "dog tag" on the marker also bore the deceased's home address. It is our opinion that the scheme should never have been encouraged.
The nearby German Military Cemetery, then comprising some 6,000 to 8,000 graves, was also placed under our responsibility, doubling the task of grounds maintenance and the annual repainting of grave markers.
Unlike France, where the prior existence of World War I American cemeteries had established a modus operandi, Luxembourg was experiencing for the first time our non-combat activity and we were frequently hindered by officials who, while cordial, were unable to interpret existing regulations in our favor. Thus, we had literally to smuggle supplies--even paint for the grave markers -for a considerable period before reasonable importation arrangements could be worked out.
In 1947, the Superintendent was also charged with the temporary cemetery at Foy, near Bastogne, comprising 3,700 graves.
Visitor traffic in the years 1946-47 was impressive. On one particular Sunday, our guides actually counted more than 14,600 persons entering the grounds.
As virtually every visitor wished to see General Patton's grave, if was impossible to maintain a lawn on the adjacent graves. By the end of a Sunday, visitors would have trod a rut six inches deep from the path to the grave, necessitating a re-sodding job in the morning. At our repeated urging, therefore, we were authorized to transfer the grave from a plot in the west end of the grounds to its present location. The transfer was effected on March 19, 1947.
Prior to the transfer, the authorities had wanted the grave to be moved to the west end of Row 1, Plot B. An unknown grave was placed at the east end of that row to establish architectural equilibrium. We maintained that this was no solution, however, as large touring groups insisted on being photographed around General Patton's cross, and nearby graves would still be disturbed. The Plot B idea was thus abandoned, but this interim plan explains the presence of the unknown in Plot B, Row I, Grove 2.
In March 1948, the cemetery was closed to visitors and screened with tarpaulins around its entire perimeter. Military personnel and morticians assembled, and 250 local laborers were hired to perform the exhumations.
A large hangar was erected in the east meadow, site of the present garage, to which the remains were taken for final positive identification followed by casketing in massive, bronze-finished coffins. These containers weighed over 500 pounds, so that a narrow-gauge railway track was laid about the terrain to facilitate handling.
Processing of remains was interrupted briefly at times when phosphorous grenades still present in the remnants of a deceased's combat uniform burst into flame. All unexploded charges discovered at this stage were buried in a pit in the woods about 70 yards below, say, Grove 15 in the last row of Plot H.
From the processing hangar, the caskets were transported to a rented field in Hamm for storage under tarpaulins. Remains requested by N.O.K. for return to the United States were subsequently trucked to the port of Antwerp.
With all remains removed from the cemetery grounds, Contractor Emile Frank used bulldozers and sheepsfoot rollers to re-establish a true surface. Plans for the permanent arrangement of the graves area having been received, excavators dug continuous ditches along the proposed arcs, caskets were brought back from Hamm, laid in the trenches with an accuracy of .01 foot with reference to established base marks, the earth replaced, graded and compacted.
Just prior to lowering, each remains received the interment rites of an appropriate clergyman. Cure Jacques Schmit of Hamm, Pastor Nicolas Housse of Luxembourg, and various Jewish Chaplains performed these services. The flag used in each case was mailed to the N.O.K.
It is to be noted for all time that the remains were so carefully controlled during the entire period that an error in identification or in the location of any headstone is unthinkable. No visiting N.O.K. need ever entertain the slightest doubt in this regard.
It is also to be noted that, during this period, specialists examined some 267 unknown remains and positively identified all but 101 of them.
The exact figures are no longer at hand, but about 5,000 of our 8,412 remains were repatriated. A small temporary cemetery at Grand Failly, near Longwy, was closed out and we received a quota for interment here, bringing our permanent total to 5,076. Thus, visitors who exclaim at the heavy battle fall reflected in the cemetery plots may be reminded that a like number were returned home, so that the real toll was double the apparent one.
Custody of the cemetery was transferred from A.G.R.C. to A.B.M.C. on December 16, 1949. Development of the grounds started promptly, following plans drawn by the New York firm of Voorhees, Walker, Foley and Smith.
It is an oddity that, while virtually the entire landscaping work was to be performed by contract, we ourselves were left to clear the forest from the future terrace site. By selling the three trunks to lumber dealers, we realized funds to purchase dynamite and equipment needed to remove the mass of three stumps from the clearing.
The Superintendent transported the dynamite and explosive caps in his own car from the powder works at Kokkelscheuer, making frequent trips with small quantities so that an explosion en route would not put too much of the community into orbit. As our laborers were reluctant to participate, the placing and exploding of the charges were performed almost single-handed by Mr. John D. Mountjoy, the excellent Assistant Superintendent at that time. It was an arduous, dangerous undertaking, but only one casualty was recorded: the top third of one of our wooden flagpoles was severed by a wildly soaring root.
The so-called "Walker plans" envisaged a slab-roofed colonnade extending along the front edge of the terrace, with a glass-enclosed chapel nestling at the center point. As an influential member of the Commission objected adamantly to this conception, the original firm withdrew and was succeeded by Architect Francis Keally of New York, and associates, who designed the existing structures on the basis of the predecessor's terrain arrangement, which we had already accomplished.
As a detailed description of these works is given in our Guide's Talk pamphlet, we would mention here just a few interesting background incidents.
First, it is to be noted that the figure of the Angel on the chapel facade was carved in place, hewn in about four week's time by an elderly Italian sculptor and his two nephews. The block of New Orchid Red granite was so hard that chisels were blunted after every few strokes and it was necessary to lower them to the ground, where a field forge was operated continuously to dress the instruments.
Another interesting sidelight concerns the texts inscribed on the battle map pylons and the Walls of the missing. These inscriptions were done in winter months and we had to enclose the sculptor's platform in plastic sheeting, with Butagaz heaters inside to warm both men and stone.
A great proportion of these inscriptions was carved by a one-armed German sculptor. This man--a strong, cheerful individual in his early forties--had lost his right forearm on the Russian front. While in hospital, learning that his subsequent pension would have been greater if he had lost his arm above the elbow, he prevailed upon a complacent doctor to remove the injured arm near the shoulder. After demobilization, the man acquired a short leather sleeve affair, resembling a flower pot with a small hammer stuck into the drainhole. Donning this contrivance at the work site and driving it with a lunge of his right shoulder, the man worked as swiftly and as accurately as did his colleagues, who, incidentally, worked in harmony with him despite their French nationality.
It may be mentioned in passing that the artisans who worked on the over-all project came from England, Holland , Belgium, France, West-Germany, Italy and, of course, Luxembourg.
During the construction period, Madame Perle Mesta, U.S. Minister, and His Excellency Mr. Joseph Bech, the Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs, signed an Accord (March 20, 1951) by which we received the use of the land in perpetuity. Outright title to the land had been offered, but this would have raised a problem of extra- territoriality, which was considered undesirable.
While we do not have any written evidence, if has always been our understanding that the Luxembourg authorities promulgated at that time a provision whereby no commercial ventures could be established within 500 meters of the cemetery. We do recall that one influential person was denied permission to construct a tourist hotel opposite the cemetery entrance, and the police have always assisted U.S. in removing vendors from the parking area.
In that connection, we have long suspected that the terrain on the for side of the railroad line would eventually be subdivided into residential sections. We have nurtured trees for some years on our side of the line to insure the future privacy of our grounds on the west side.
The completed grounds and Memorial were dedicated on July 4, 1960 in a ceremony attended by Their Royal Highnesses the Grand Duchess Charlotte and the Prince of Luxembourg.
The Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, the Vice-President of the United States, visited the cemetery on November 4, 1963.
Among other distinguished visitors received in the period 1944-65, the following may be mentioned:
Members of the Grand-Ducal Family:
H.R.H Prince Jean, Hereditary Grand Duke
H.R.H Prince Charles
T.R.H. the Princesses Marie-Adelaide, Marie-Gabrielle, and Alix
The Honorable (later Sir) Winston S. Churchill
Miss Mary Churchill
Mr. Randolph L. Churchill
Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt
General Elliot Roosevelt
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Brigadier-General George S. Patton, Jr. (Son of General Patton)
Chancellor Figl of Austria
The Honorable Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Le Marechal Juin
Prince Peter of Greece
Princess Charlotte de Ligne
Miss Margaret Truman, daughter of President Truman
Allowing for the repatriation period, during which the cemetery was closed to the public, a close and considered estimate--based partly on precise, early records--would give the following total of persons having visited these grounds as of August 31, 1965:
The staff of the United States Military Cemetery at Hamm, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, welcome to this hallowed site the American Clergymen who are visiting the cemetery today.
This little group of workers--many of whom have served since the cemetery was opened on December 29, 1944--have dedicated their labors to the provision of tranquillity and beauty for those who are sleeping here. It is, moreover, their earnest hope that their efforts may also bring solace to the families of those who rest in their care. Thus the staff of Hamm Cemetery--though they speak English, French, or the Luxembourg dialect--are serving America in a task which is more highly spiritual than the passer-by would suspect.
Perhaps it is because of the spiritual aspect of their mission that the members of the cemetery staff extend a special word of greeting to their distinguished guests of the American Clergy.
With the thought that the distinguished representatives of the American Clergy may wish at some future time to refresh their memories regarding the United States Military Cemetery at Hamm, the Staff have compiled several items of general interest concerning the site.
1. The cemetery was opened on December 29, 1944, receiving the remains of some of the American fighting men who fell in the counter-attack against "Von Rundstedt Offensive" in the Ardennes.
2. Total number of graves: 8,400
3. Number of Unknowns: 195
4. Proportions by Religion:
a) Protestant 56.11 percent
b) Catholic 27.46 percent
c) Unknown 13.45 percent
d) Hebrew 2.78 percent
e) Other 0.20 percent
5. Proportion by Military Status:
a) Officers 6.71 percent
b) Enlisted Men 93.29 percent
6. Visitors to Hamm Cemetery:
a) Total during 1945: 18,000
b) Total during 1946: 202,400
c) Jan I -July 21, 1947: 85,750
d) Grand Total to date: 286,150
7. Significance of Visitor Count: It should not be overlooked that the great preponderance of European visitors to the cemetery have come to the site to accomplish a "pilgrimage of gratitude". They decorate graves with thousands of flowers each week, even though they never knew the deceased. Prayers are offered almost hourly by fraternal and patriotic societies, by school children and scouts. A local train stops periodically near the grounds, and the passengers sing several hymns to the American dead before the train resumes its journey to the Moselle River country. These are gestures of profound sympathy and respect, the sincerity of which cannot be doubted.
8. Tangible expressions of gratitude by the people of Luxembourg. The Luxembourg people purchased the 43 acres of field and woodland which comprise the cemetery site and made it available to the people without charge for perpetuity. The townspeople have donated both labor and material to assist the cemetery staff in developing the site. All the flowers and plants have been gifts, as well as road-building materials and many cemetery fixtures. These friends also beautify the plots with bouquets and wreaths on American holidays, on days of religious significance, and during the Christmas season.