for Chester Merrill American Cemetery, Nancy, France
We had crossed the river in those small boats and as we ran toward the wall I was hit and the medics, without hope, carried me to the command post and laid me among my dying comrades. They say where we crossed the river there is a salt mine and that they found there hidden treasure: thousands of paintings and other things unimaginable. There was a Rembrandt among the paintings and the ancient stained-glass windows, 12th to 14th centuries, from the cathedral at Strasbourg. The Nazi officers had orders to destroy it all, the so-called Nero Decree, but in the confusion of our attack the miners prevented the mine from being destroyed and an American officer who knew of the treasures appeared at the mine in time to keep it from flooding and everything was saved.
I wish that as I lay there among my comrades we had known of the Rembrandt and those windows.