KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany, –
A somber and lovely landscaped German cemetery located adjacent to Daenner Kaserne – a small U.S. installation in Germany and the home of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade – sits quietly along the northern edge of Mannheimer Strasse on the eastern edge of Kaiserslautern. And unbeknownst to many, tucked away within this beautiful cemetery at its very heart, lies a small plot of land belonging to 451 lost American souls – all infants.
Between the years of 1952 and 1971, these U.S. infants – who died at birth or shortly thereafter at the Army hospital in Landstuhl or nearby civilian hospitals – were buried at this cemetery called Waldfriedhof. The site where the children rest within Waldfriedhof – often adored with flowers, small U.S. flags and wreaths with stone markers for each child – is simply known as the Kaiserslautern kindergraves.
In the years since, organizations such as the Ramstein Area Chiefs Group, the German-American and International Womens Club, and the Kaiserslautern Kindergraves Memorial Foundation have stepped up – both financially and through actions and deeds – to maintain this special site and honor to these American children.
Recently, a small group of people from the 405th AFSB and the Ramstein Area Chiefs Group spent part of their weekend raking leaves and dressing up the gravesites to pay tribute and respect to these lost souls, in their own special way.
The 451 infants who are buried at the kindergraves site belonged to American families who were stationed here in Kaiserslautern, and due to various reasons these families were unable to take their babies back home, said Lori Bane, the spouse of the 405th AFSB commander and a freelance graphics designer.
“It is so important that we help remember and pay tribute to these infants and their families,” Bane said. “Because their families cannot be here, we are blessed with the opportunity to help watch over them and do our part in ensuring they are taken care of.”
Bane and everyone who volunteered to help spruce up the kindergraves site recently all agreed that the holidays is a perfect time to help out and do something from the heart for others.
“Volunteering and doing kind deeds for others, especially during the holidays, provides such a wonderful feeling. That feeling is a true gift in itself,” said Bane, who also volunteers with the schools as well as various other organizations across the Kaiserslautern Military Community.
And once spring arrives, Bane said the 405th AFSB plans on expanding its support and bringing more volunteers out to the kindergraves site to continue the work. They plan to continue beautifying the site and landscaping, and they plan to raise and donate money to replace some of the hard-to-read grave markers and repair the sprinkler system, plus more.
With the kindergraves located only a few blocks from the units headquarters, this is a wonderful opportunity to honor these infants and the sacrifices their families made while doing something positive for the community, Bane said.
For more information on the kindergraves, visit www.kaiserslautern-kindergraves.org. If interested in volunteering with the 405th AFSB team during one of their beautification or fundraising support events, please contact the 405th AFSB public affairs office at 0611-143-528-2316/2350.