Saturday, May 27, 2017

Some have never forgotten...

It was November, 1944, two months after the U.S. 30th Infantry Division freed 1,500 residents of Margraten, Netherlands, from Nazi occupation. The village is just a few miles from the German border, and the Americans needed a place to bury their dead. They picked a fruit orchard just outside Margraten.  Between 1944 and 1945, up to 500 bodies arrived each day. The village mayor went door-to-door asking villagers to help with the digging, and many volunteered. Since the Dutch loved their liberators, the town clerk made a proposal. Each of the 8,300 headstones should be adopted. Today each grave is still adopted by a Dutch or Belgian or German family. Some families have been grave-tenders for five generations, and more than 100 people are still on the grave-tending wait list.

Tenders periodically visit their chosen graves, delivering flowers on soldiers' birthdays, dates of death, Christmas and Memorial Day. Over the decades, about 40 percent of Dutch tenders and their American families have linked up. Sixty percent still remain strangers. If you'd like to honor these soldiers by visiting Margraten on Memorial Day, use this link.

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