SCHINNEN, Netherlands (Nov. 11, 2008) - Veterans Day at the American Military Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands, dawned with howling winds and driving rain, but the clouds parted just in time for a ceremony at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, commemorating the precise moment in history when the armistice was signed ending World War I.
Guest speaker, Lt. Col. Fern Sumpter, USAG Schinnen Commander, addressed an enthusiastic crowd, many of whom were visiting Margraten for the first time. Fifth and sixth graders from nearby Geilenkirchen Elementary and AFNORTH International School attended the ceremony as part of an annual field trip.
Sumpter reminded the students about the significance of Veterans Day and praised their own sacrifices as the sons and daughters of military personnel who are currently serving. "It takes a special kind of person to be part of a military family and watch those you love give so much," Sumpter said.
"As part of a military family, you are part of something much bigger than yourself," Sumpter told the students. "The Americans we honor today were also part of something much bigger... [they] gave their lives for something much bigger than themselves."
Margraten is the final resting place for over 8,000 Americans who fought the Battle of Arnhem and countless other World War II conflicts. The Veterans Day Ceremony pays tribute to the sacrifices of those 8,000 Americans and honors veterans of all wars. Spanning more than 65 acres, the cemetery is the only American military cemetery in the Netherlands.