Veterans Day at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial
October 29, 2010
By Tom Budzyna
- Tri-Border studetns gather to honor Veterans in Margraten
- Veterans Day a solemn reminder of real dangers faced by service memebers today
- All 8,301 graves adopted by local Ducth citizens
SCHINNEN, Netherlands - Students from the AFNORTH International High School will gather with service and family members of the tri-border community to honor all Veterans at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial Nov. 11, 11 a.m.
The speaker will be USAG Schinnen Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Chad R. Arcand and the ceremony will include musical performances, the placement of selected poems by students in the memorial chapel, and the presentation of the National Colors by the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Honor Platoon.
"What gets me motivated about Veterans Day is that it's to honor all Veterans serving today. It's not a memorial service but a time to reflect upon those who died in the serve of their Nation." said Keith K. Stadler, the Superintendant of the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial.
"At a location like the cemetery here in Margraten, Veterans Day becomes a solemn reminder of the real dangers faced by Veterans past and to remind us that the Veterans of today still face these dangers," Stadler said.
The Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission, is where 8,301 U.S. Service members are buried and is located in the heart of the Province of Limburg, which was liberated exclusively by U.S. forces in 1944.
The American Cemetery in Margraten was the resting site for over 18,000 U.S. Soldiers when it was first established by the U.S. Ninth Army in 1944.
"When the cemetery was first established in 1944, great respect to all war dead was given equally no matter whose side they were on. I think how we treat and respect Soldiers is a reflection on our society. Days, like Veterans Day, are important," said Frenk Lahaye, a Netherlands American Cemetery Associate and a native of the Netherlands.
In September 1944, while the southern part of the Netherlands was liberated by U.S. forces, allied operations in the northern part of the Netherlands were not immediately successful. The Dutch suffered a terrible winter of famine in the north while the allies fought the Battle of the Bulge.
The liberation in the southern part of the Netherlands enabled work to begin on the Netherlands American Cemetery. It wasn't until late spring of 1945 that peace returned to Europe. The roots of Veterans Day can be traced to the end of World War I, which officially ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918.
The Netherlands American Cemetery, which has held a Memorial Day Ceremony each year since it was established, is noted for having every single grave adopted by a local Dutch family - all 8,301 graves. The adoption program is so successful that an effort is underway to enable Dutch families to adopt names on the cemetery's "Wall of the Missing".