The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice at Arlington National Cemetery

And the last land he found, it was fair and level ground
About a carven stone,
And a stark Sword brooding on the bosom of the Cross
Where high and low are one.

Canadian Cross of Sacrifice, Arlington National Cemetery
Canadian Cross of Sacrifice, Arlington National Cemetery

Rudyard Kipling’s verse from The King’s Pilgrimage—the visit of King George V to war cemeteries in France and Flanders in 1922—highlights three iconic aspects of the commemoration of the war dead of the two world wars by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.[1] Firstly, the huge Stone of Remembrance in the larger cemeteries—the ‘great war stone’ was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to be abstract and to avoid association with any particular religion. Secondly, and in contrast, the elegant Cross of Sacrifice designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. Finally, the equality of treatment for all war dead regardless of rank, nationality, creed or race.

In the United States there are no Stones of Remembrance. There are, however, two Crosses of Sacrifice. The cross is in all CWGC cemeteries where there are more than 40 war graves, which explains its presence in Oakwood Cemetery Annexe in Montgomery, Alabama. There are 78 graves from the Second World War in the cemetery, all airmen who died during training.

The other cross is in Arlington National Cemetery. There are only 32 graves in Arlington and that cross serves another purpose. It is a memorial, specifically to the citizens of the United States who gave their lives while serving in the armed forces of Canada in the First and Second World Wars and in Korea. Continue reading