William M. Matz ’61 leads the American Battle Monuments Commission through commemorations of the First and Second World Wars

 

Since January 2018, William M. Matz has served as Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). His time in this role has coincided with a heightened period of commemorative activity as the ABMC marked several major anniversaries of the two World Wars. Among others, these have included the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice during the First World War and the 75th Anniversary of D-Day during the Second World War. 

A graduate of the Gettysburg College Class of 1961, Matz has served on the Eisenhower Institute National Advisory Council, the Board of Fellows, and the Commission on the Future. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997 and the Meritorious Service Award in 2011.

A statement on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day Commemoration at Normandy from the ABMC:

In June, the American Battle Monuments Commission hosted the largest commemorative event in its 96-year history, as 14,000 guests gathered at Normandy American Cemetery (NOAC) to remember the history defining day of June 6, 1944. Two presidents, 17 United States senators, 63 members of the House of Representatives, numerous cabinet officials and ambassadors, 14 four-star flag officers, together with European political and diplomatic leaders and 900 credentialed media were present. Impressive as that list is, they were not the focus of attention. Instead, the applause and visible emotion of those in attendance honored the more than 170 World War II veterans, 57 of which came across the beaches or parachuted in on D-Day; the 168 next of kin of those who fell during the Normandy campaign; and the thousands who rest peacefully within NOAC’s hallowed ground, or in graves unknown. It was a once in a lifetime moment of reflection, reverence and remembrance.

The next day ABMC’s Board of Commissioners rededicated the Normandy Visitor Center. Its newly installed update of exhibits and videos is another shining example of an interdisciplinary team joining forces to create an exceptional new visitor experience.

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The commemoration at Normandy was preceded by the 75th Anniversary of the Anzio landings at Sicily-Rome cemetery in January, followed by the 75th Anniversary events of the Southern landings at Rhone American Cemetery in August and the Battle of the Bulge in December. October will see the dedication of a new visitor center at Manila American Cemetery and November brings the dedication of the visitor center at the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery.

“I am humbled by the dedicated service our staff provides in executing our noble and sacred mission. I am honored to serve alongside them, and proud to be the Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission,” said William M. Matz, Gettysburg College, Class of 1961. 

Watch Matz’s remarks below: