On a rainy and tempestuous Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people turned out to honour the soldiers who fought for freedom.
The Netherlands American Cemetery took care of a worthy remembrance. Besides the great songs and prayers there was time to listen to the impressive stories of those who fell and others who knew the stories of those who are buried here down at Margraten.
During the ceremony, the Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum Headquarters, General Salvatore Farina, laid a wreath on behalf of the Headquarters. Other notable dignitaries paying tribute to the many who gave of their lives, included: Major General Hans van der Louw (Adjutant General to His Majesty the King of the Netherlands and Chief of the Military Household), the Honourable Adam Sterling (Charge d’Affaires of the United States of America), the honourable Martin van Rijn (State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport), Mr Theo Bovens (King’s commissioner for the Province of Limburg) and Lieutenant General Frederick Ben Hodges (Commanding General, US Army Europa).
Memorial Day is a North American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, it is held in honour of the men and women who died whilst serving in the U.S. military. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades.
The World War II Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial is a war cemetery which covers 65.5 acres. A total of 8,301 American soldiers lie buried beneath the white marble crosses and stars of David within the only North American cemetery in the Netherlands, in the southern Limburg town of Margraten. Those buried here gave their lives in World War II for Europe’s freedom. In 1945, to honour and thank them, the Dutch government gave the United States a perpetual lease on the ground for the cemetery. In Margraten and the surrounding area, the sacrifices and achievements of those who fell are remembered in many ways.
Article and photos by Captain Linda Schrader, JFCBS Public Affairs.