What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

Places

How the U.S. Designed Overseas Cemeteries to Win the Cold War

From France to the Philippines, Stunning Landscapes of Infinite Graves Displayed American Sacrifice and Power

by Kate Clarke Lemay

Americans commemorate our fallen soldiers differently than other countries do. You can see the difference most clearly overseas. While innumerable war cemeteries in Europe and the Philippines account for the dead from all participating nations of World War I and World War II, only the American war cemeteries feature highly designed landscapes and major works of art and architecture.

The decision to build these monuments and place them in park-like cemeteries reflects the Cold War of the 1950s as much as …

Event
Places

After a Century of Neglect, Americans Are Learning How to Live in the Mojave Again

More People Are Setting Down Roots in a Desert Once Reserved for Mining Towns and Lonely Highways

by Fred Landau and Lawrence Walker

At first, there was no road at all, just a series of springs where the water table breached the earth’s crust.

At the end of the last Ice Age (about 15,000 years ago), there had been many interconnected lakes, rivers, and springs here in the Mojave Desert. Since then, these extensive waterways have mostly dried up, leaving just two intermittent rivers (the Mojave and the Amargosa) and one permanent river (the Colorado). Yet the desert, where the average rainfall is less …