The couple has developed close ties to American veterans and is especially devoted to helping the offspring of slain soldiers understand what their fathers endured. If you ask the couple about anti-Americanism, they say you won't find any in this part of Belgium.
This Veterans Day has special meaning at the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, about 25 miles northwest of Verdun: It marks the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.
Until the day the armistice went into effect, troops were fighting an offensive in an area still known as America's bloodiest battle: In 47 days, 26,277 U.S. military personnel were killed.
The bodies of many who died here were at the expense of the U.S. government, in accordance with the wishes of the next of kin. But 14,247 war dead, including 486 unknown soldiers, never left this 130-acre tract of land given in perpetuity by France to the U.S.
"I think of it as their last bivouac," said Joseph P. Rivers, the cemetery superintendent who showed me around.
This, the largest American military cemetery in Europe, lies on the outskirts of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, population 172, among gently rolling fields, deep forests and a scattering of hills that were bitterly contested in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
The French and Germans had fought in the area in 1914 before a long stalemate fell over the front line. For four years before the Americans arrived, Germans occupied the region, building five-star trenches with running water and electric lights.
Though comfortably ensconced, they were not soft, and they fought back with an intensity that stunned Gen. John J. Pershing's 1st Army, which mounted the Meuse-Argonne attack on Sept. 26, 1918, the first major American-led offensive of the war. The initial 600,000-man force was largely made up of green, barely trained recruits.
An almost incomprehensible 1.2 million Americans ultimately fought in the Meuse-Argonne.
But to me everything about the war to end all wars seems incomprehensible, especially the final death count: 20 million.
The quiet, green landscape around Romagne bears no witness to the Great War's destructiveness, though I later saw photos of the area at the end of the conflict.
Whole towns were razed. The barren, brutalized countryside was littered with barbed wire, bomb craters, land mines, poison gas canisters and corpses that were gathered in Romagne where a cemetery took shape even as the fighting raged.
It spans a small valley with eight rectangular grave plots, bordered by linden trees, climbing to a memorial on high ground.
Standing there, Rivers pointed south toward a distant hill surmounted by a 200-foot American monument: Montfaucon, a principal U.S. objective. It took the Americans three weeks to fight their way from there across five miles of farm fields to Romagne.
The centerpiece of the memorial is a chapel with stained- glass windows bearing the insignias of the divisions that fought in the Meuse-Argonne, including the 92nd black American Buffalo Soldiers and the "Bloody Bucket" 28th, largely from Pennsylvania.
We walked among the tombstones, arranged in long parallel rows but placed in no particular order; bodies were buried as they arrived, except for the 18 sets of brothers, placed side-by-side when possible.
The stones show the deceased's name, rank, serial number, division, state of enlistment and date of death. In the case of unidentified remains, the marker says: "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."
Gold-leafed inscriptions mark the graves of nine of the 53 combatants who won the Medal of Honor in the Meuse-Argonne. Among them is Cpl. Freddie Stowers, a black officer who died leading his decimated platoon into German trenches, but -- for a variety of reasons, including racism, some claimed -- did not receive the nation's highest decoration until 1991, 73 years after he died.