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Netherlands America Institute Limburg

noneThe Netherlands America Institute Limburg

What is the NAIL?

Following World War Two (WWII), the Netherlands-America Institute (NAI) was established at Amsterdam in 1946. The NAI placed great emphasis on exchange/scholarship programmes between the Netherlands and America. However, the Limburg Chapter of the NAI determined they wished to place more focus on the long-term sustainment of robust friendships between the US and Limburg. This was driven by the fact that the US played a huge role in the Allied liberation of South Limburg in WWII and Margraten Cemetery (today the resting place of 8301 American soldiers) together with its Adoption Programme whereby local families look after the graves, had been set up in 1946. This undercurrent of opinion gave rise to a more independent branch of the NAI, the Netherlands America Institute Limburg (NAIL), in 1952. Similar groups established after the Second World War elsewhere in the Netherlands have ceased to function, but the NAIL remains strong.

Why? Because of two key reasons:

First, the special bond formed between the people of Limburg and the USA in the wake of the liberation of this region in 1944-45 inter alia by American troops. There are still NAIL members today who, as children, personally witnessed the arrival of US troops in their towns, housed US soldiers in their homes, and care for the graves of the thousands of US soldiers interred in the war cemetery at Margraten. More graves of US soldiers have been "adopted" by ordinary citizens at Margraten than at any other US war cemetery. The fact that so many local people continue to visit Margraten, including Dutch schoolchildren, underscores the region's continuing commitment to US-Dutch relations.

Second, the NATO and US military presence here in the region has established strong ties with US senior commanders, military personnel and civilians. Thanks to their continuous support and commitment the NAIL remains strong.

The NAIL is a non-political organization and most members are, or have been, part of military and/or civilian national and/or international entities. Today, the NAIL has circa 300 members comprising American, Belgian, British, Dutch, German, Irish, Italian and Spanish nationals. We have established strong ties with the US Embassy and its Consul General in The Hague, the US communities of US Army Garrison Schinnen (including personnel of the US Coast Guard based at that location), Joint Force Command Brunssum, NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, AFNORTH International School, the Limburg Veterans Day Foundation, the SHAK 1944 Foundation[1], the Overseas Americans Remember Foundation[2]and the Foundation of the Adoption of American Graves Margraten.

What are NAIL Objectives?

The key objectives of the NAIL are:

* to maintain & strengthen social, cultural and economic ties;

* to promote friendship between citizens of the USA, the Netherlands and other nations.

What do we do?

Essentially the NAIL is a platform facilitating people to connect, to identify synergies and to establish networks resulting in mutual understanding and appreciation. This platform generates a wide range of activities. Major NAIL events are the annual Memorial Eve gathering and participation in Memorial Day Services the following Day, and the celebration of the birthday of the Netherlands King, Willem-Alexander. Other activities include themed dinner & dance events, beer calls, meetings, excursions/visits to local breweries, international organizations such as EUROCONTROL and European Institutions such as the EU Parliament & Commission, factories, historic sites, museums, castles and selected regional restaurants. The NAIL also sponsors special guest lectures on topics of interest. If you have a particular field of expertise or interest, we would welcome having you speak at a NAIL-organized event!

In keeping with an objective to broaden the appeal and reach of the NAIL over recent years we have sponsored a number of local and regional projects. Amongst others, these have included the American Spouses Club Auction, the Open Air Theatre at Valkenburg, the Terry Fox Run[3] and the Schutterij St. Gertrudis Amstenrade[4].

But, we should not forget that we aim to promote & preserve the cultural, economic and social contacts between the Netherlands and the USA. Furthermore, the provision of information & assistance to Americans residing in Limburg and elsewhere in the Netherlands is an essential objective for us.

How is the NAIL organized?

The NAIL has a Board comprising of 7 voting members and 4 advisors. It is fully accountable for its actions to its members. To ensure transparency and accountability a General Membership Meeting is held annually.

How Do I Join?

Are you interested to join[5], but would appreciate additional clarification and/or information? Please contact one of the following to discover more:

 Chairwoman: Mrs Marjo Thijssen - Nas;  T: +31 06 508 315; Email:  marjonasthijssen@hotmail.com

 Secretary:  Lieutenant Roger Schijven:  T: +31 06 150 317; Email:   rogerschijven.nail@gmail.com

Communications Director:  Drs Barry Mellor;  T: +31 (0)45 526 2167; Email:  barry.mellor@jfcbs.nato.int

Useful Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/naillimburg/

NAIL Website – http://naillimburg.wixsite.com/naillimburg

https://www.facebook.com/naillimburg/[1] SHAK stands for the 'Stichting Herdenking Amerikaanse Kerstviering 1944'. This translates into English as 'Foundation of the Commemoration of the American Christmas Celebration 1944'. Founded in September 1994, SHAK is a volunteer organization with the goal of organizing an annual commemoration of the Mass of the American Christmas Celebration on December 24, 1944, held by US soldiers in caves adjacent to Maastricht. The initiative of the Mass was an idea of the Brothers of the Immaculate Conception who, at the time, were the owners of the cave system. The Mass was celebrated in Schark Cave, in the neighbourhood of St. Pieter's Mountain in Maastricht.  Between 250 and 280, mostly very young American soldiers, attended this Christmas Celebration Mass.  After the Mass many of the soldiers inscribed their names on the walls in charcoal and most of these remain legible today.

[2] The goal of the Overseas Americans Remember Foundation is to dignify and commemorate days and events that must not be forgotten. Its events are inclusive and reach out to people of all nations, races and religions.

[3] The Terry Fox Run is an annual non-competitive charity event held in numerous regions around the world in commemoration of Canadian cancer activist Terry Fox, and his Marathon of Hope, that raises money for cancer research. The event was founded in 1981 by Isadore Sharp, who contacted Terry in hospital by telegram and expressed his wishes to hold an annual run in Terry's name to raise funds for cancer research. Sharp himself had lost a son to cancer in 1979. Since its inception, the runhas raised via the 'Terry Fox Foundation' over $700 million. The run itself is informal which means that the distance often varies, usually between 5 and 15 kilometres; participation is considered to be more important than completing the set distance. There are also runs set up by schools of every level, often with shorter distances than the "official" ones.

[4] 'Schutterij' refers to a voluntary city guard or citizen militia in the medieval and early modern Netherlands. Originally its task was to protect the town or city from attack and act in case of revolt or fire. Their training grounds were often on open spaces within the city, near the city walls, but, when the weather did not allow, inside a church. They are mostly grouped according to their district and to the weapon that they used: bow, crossbow or gun. Together, its members are called a Schuttersgilde, which could be roughly translated as a "shooter's guild". It is now a title applied to ceremonial shooting clubs and to the country's Olympic rifle team.

[5] If you would like to join and need no further information please fill and send the application form that has also been posted to this site.

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