Responsive Joomla Templates by BlueHost Coupon

Fields of Honor - Database

In addition to using the photos for the unique tribute at the cemetery from May 2-6, 2018, photos also will be stored for future generations in the Fields of Honor - Database. In this database, information and photos can be found on thousands of American soldiers, including many who have been buried in Margraten. The database can be visited at www.fieldsofhonor-database.com

5,850 faces, 1 audio tour

More than 5,850 photos will be on display during this year's The Faces of Margraten tribute, which will take place from May 2 -6 of this year. This year two of the buried people in the cemetery will take you for a tour over the cemetery, while they tell their stories. Listen to them by taking the Voices of Margraten tour.

Remarks Deputy Chief of Mission Sterling

Adam H. Sterling, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, shared remarks on behalf of the United States. "We should not allow the uniformity of the headstones to cause us to forget that each headstone tells an individual story," Sterling said. Read his speech in full here.

Plaatsvervangend Commisaris van de Koning Koopmans, Burgemeester Akkermans, Superintendent Stadler, Geachte dames en heren. Goedemiddag. Het is een eer om hier vandaag te zijn, op deze laatste rustplaats van zo veel moedige, jonge mannen en vrouwen.

Listening to my nation's anthem here on Dutch soil is deeply moving. So is looking across this backdrop of white marble carefully aligned across the hilltops. This alignment, enhanced by the uniformity of the headstones, is starkly beautiful and symbolically meaningful.

 DSC7876 klBut we should not allow the uniformity of the headstones to cause us to forget that each headstone tells an individual story - a story of a young man or woman who fought and fell here - a story of their courage and ideals, of their hope that, in the end, risking and ultimately losing their lives helped bring lasting peace, freedom, and justice.

And today, their stories come to life. Today, many of these headstones have a face. In faded black and white photographs, soldiers look back at us in the full glow of youth.

To those of you who have adopted, cared for, and lovingly maintained their graves, these photos put a face to the name.

If they could, I know they would thank you for preserving the dignity of their final resting place and for giving solace to their families and loved ones.

They would thank you for remembering them and grieving for the lives they did not get to live.

They might also tell you about the first Memorial Day commemoration at Margraten on May 30, 1945, when more than 200 men and women worked day and night to place wreaths and flowers on every newly dug grave.

How they came on foot, by bike, on horses, and in carriages. How they adopted the new graves and honored the fallen.

In the words of one Dutch citizen that first Memorial Day: "You who enter this cemetery, look. Remember the price your freedom took."

When we reflect on this traumatic period in our history, we easily forget the personal stories of those who sacrificed.

We are overwhelmed by the numbers: 60 million casualties, 300,000 here in the Netherlands. 400,000 American soldiers killed; 8,301 American soldiers buried here and another 1,722 immortalized on the Wall of the Missing. But behind these numbers are people, just like you and me, with a history, a name, and a face.

That is why today is so important. We at the Embassy are proud to be part of this Faces of Margraten initiative.

And since this is a day to honor individuals, I have to share a story about an inspiring young Dutchman I met early in my nearly two years in the Netherlands. His name is Sebastiaan Vonk, and he is today about the same age as most of the soldiers buried here were at their deaths.

I met Sebastiaan during a working visit to Groningen, which included a stop at the university so I could speak to American Studies students.

After my talk, a soft-spoken but clearly ambitious young student approached me. He told me about the work he was doing in his free time to collect, organize, and publish personal stories about the soldiers buried at Margraten.
He also told me about his vision to give a face to each grave, and how he planned to collect many of them by May 2015, in time for the 70th anniversary commemorations.

This was in February 2014, mind you. Sebastiaan handed me a document that described his vision and laid out his plan.

While I thought it was a great idea, I was skeptical that this young, full-time student – living way up North in Groningen – could actually pull this off.

But Sebastiaan is persistent. He talked us into giving him seed money to help get the idea off the ground.

Since many of the photos would need to come from families of the soldiers in America, Sebastiaan worked with our public affairs team at the Embassy and with the Foreign Ministry – even catching the attention of then-Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, himself a grave adopter, who stressed the Dutch government's support for the project in a speech at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.

Sebastiaan also appealed to American media to publish stories in the communities once home to these soldiers.

Many local media outlets jumped at the opportunity to support this project. Stories were published across America. Photos have been trickling in.

Today, less than a year and a half after my first encounter with Sebastiaan, he has managed to locate more than 3,300 photos.

I am impressed and touched to see the results of Sebastiaan's efforts, and the efforts of so many other volunteers who have brought this idea to fruition.

Sebastiaan is living proof that, as memories of the liberation become history, the liberators will not be forgotten.

Thank you.

Photo The Faces of Margraten/Municipality of Eijsden-Margraten, Sluysmans Photography

Donate

Would you like to contribute to this project? By donating 10 dollars, you will enable us to give one soldier a face. You can donate via PayPal by clicking the button below or click here to read more.

About

The project The Faces of Margraten is a project by the Dutch non-profit Fields of Honor Foundation whose aim it is to remember U.S. soldiers buried in various overseas American cemeteries. For more information please visit www.svaao.nl or visit our Fields of Honor - Database at www.fieldsofhonor-database.com.

margraten15