Originally written and published in the regional Dutch newspaper, Dagblad de Limburger, Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 23, 2015.
American Cemetery Eight pre-war students of the Citadel lie buried at Margraten.
The American Cemetery at Margraten holds countless stories of bravery and sacrifice. Relatively unknown is the fact that eight of the men who are buried there were students of the famous Citadel, a military academy.
By Stefan Gillissen
It’s June 1940. The German army overruns the European continent and declares war on Great-Britain. In movie theaters all over the United States the Fox Movie-tone News shows Hilter’s armies marching through Paris.
The future first-year students of The Citadel, a military academy, see the images but don’t take much notice of them. They just finished high-school and are enjoying their summer holiday. In September 565 boys have to report at Charleston. Until then they still can enjoy their freedom.
On the 2nd of September 1940, forms are filled out and bills are paid in Charleston. The annual costs of studying at the Citadel lay between 530 and 670 dollars, a huge amount, but also a firm investment for a bright future. Great chances come to those who graduate from The Citadel. Nothing is known about the dark future of some of the students when General Charles Pelot Summerall, President of The Citadel, addresses them in his (more…)
Dutch Remembrance Day… Since the end of WWII, every May 4th at 8 p.m. the entire country of the Netherlands observes two minutes of silence to remember those who gave their lives for their freedom. The entire country, everyone stands still.
At the Netherlands American Cemetery it is observed with a simple yet impressive ceremony in which local school children are invited to participate. The national anthems of the Netherlands and Unites States are played followed by Taps. The Assistant Superintendent of the cemetery gives a brief word to those present. The flags are then lowered and folded by the children. The slideshow contains photos taken during the ceremonies of 2013 and 2014. (more…)
By Clemson Turregano, ’83
Citadel friends and Army friends,
I have to say that the Dutch got it right. Best.Memorial.Day.Ever.
How do you honor the fallen on Memorial Day? First, find Roger Long (Cid 89), the most knowledgeable American about Citadel WWII fallen in Europe. Meet him at a cafe near the cemetery. Meet the wonderful Dutch people who have ‘adopted’ the graves of the Citadel war dead. They make sure these fallen heroes are remembered with flowers, visits, and memories.
Meet two young history teachers, both wearing Citadel buttons, who are familiar with the history of (more…)
On Saturday, May 24, 2014, a Memorial Day ceremony was held at Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial to honor and remember all Americans who have given their lives in the service of their country and its allies.
A volley of three rounds.
Two Belgian F-16’s fly-over.
A windswept Field of Honor containing 5,323 American war dead of which 792 are unknowns.
Three Citadel Men rest in eternal peace at the cemetery which is located at Neupré, Belgium, approximately 18 kilometers south of the heart of Liège.
by Steven V. Smith, ’84 – Chair, CAA History Committee
This article originally appeared in the Alumni News of The Citadel – Summer/Fall 2013. It is reprinted here in its entirety with the permission of the Citadel Alumni Association. Several photos have been added to this web post which did not appear in the original print version. The original article may be downloaded here.
In early 1949 a package arrived at the Kenilworth building, Alden Park Manor, Philadelphia addressed to Mr. Samuel W. Rolph. The package contained the flag which covered the casket of his son, Staff Sgt. Robert C. Rolph, killed in action near Hottorf, Germany, Feb. 25, 1945, during the Rhineland campaign. The flag was a tangible reminder of his and his wife’s decision to have their son’s remains permanently interred in one of the newly established World War II cemeteries in Europe rather than returned for burial in the United States. Mrs. Rolph had recently sent a photograph of her son in uniform to The Citadel in response to General Summerall’s request to display it with other Citadel World War II dead on the memorial gallery wall in the library in Bond Hall.
The Netherlands American Cemetery is the only American Military Cemetery in Holland. It contains the final resting place of 8,301 servicemen and women with an additional 1,722 names listed on the Walls of the Missing. There are 40 instances where two brothers are buried side by side. Of the 16 WWI and WWII cemeteries in Europe, the cemetery at Margraten holds the largest number of Citadel alumni. In addition to Robert C. Rolph, ’46, seven other Citadel alumni are buried here and all have been adopted and remembered by grateful Dutch citizens.
At the end of the summer 1942, Robert C. Rolph entered The Citadel with the Class of 1946. After a year at The Citadel, he, like many other cadets and college students, found himself drafted for the war effort. Rolph was initially assigned to Battery C, 2nd Antiaircraft Training Battalion at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Selected in October 1943 for assignment with the Army Specialized Training Program, he was assigned to Section 6 Company A 2517th Service Unit (AST), Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he studied engineering. However, the urgent need for infantry replacements meant the sacrifice of the AST program and Rolph, like many thousands of others, ended up as a private in the infantry. He was assigned to L Company 3d Battalion, 406th Infantry Regiment, 102d Infantry Division. (more…)
By Maurice Heemels
On Sunday May 26, 2013, the soldiers resting in the American cemetery in The Netherlands were remembered and honored by American and Dutch authorities, American family and descendants, Dutch who adopted their graves, and all others interested in the efforts made by young American men to liberate Europe from inhumanity and totalitarianism.
Wet, white marble, flowers and flags made the cemetery on a cold Sunday in May a ‘beautiful sad place’. Sad because of its mere existence, beautiful because of its structure, its many details, the care which has been spent to keep the memory of those who fell alive, and, last but not least, its peacefulness. A peacefulness that contrasts painfully with the cold facts of World War Two’s last months of harsh fighting – fighting on French, Belgian, Dutch, and, in particular, German soil. Evil could not be overcome easily…
In all the speeches held on Margraten‘s Memorial Day one fact was remembered several times – the fact that the young Americans who found their last resting place in the Dutch countryside gave their lives for the freedom of people they did not know, living in a part of the world they had never been and knew almost nothing about.
For people of my generation, and I believe for the majority of young people today, it is quite unimaginable to get killed while helping other people in a different part of the world. Why should anyone do such a thing? Why leave your loved ones, your hometown and your country on a risky, maybe deadly trip to a war region? (more…)
This past Memorial Day was the most impressive I have experienced. Not because of any grandiose ceremony with lots of flags, speeches, and bands, but because of the people with whom I shared it. I could write a book filled with the stories from these people and the moments we had leading up to attending the Memorial Day ceremony at the Netherlands American Memorial and Cemetery.
The ceremony took place on Sunday, May 26, 2013 in the mid-afternoon. It was a cool, grey day with clouds hanging so low you felt as if you could reach out and touch them. As we walked up onto the Field of Honor, it began to rain lightly, and while we made a round through the cemetery to pay our respects, my best friend said aloud what we were all silently thinking, “This is a sad, beautiful place.”
Someday I will write that book. Today, I share a few photos. As I relive the day…the emotions start to percolate, and, again, I have butterflies in my gut and goosebumps. Soon, I will soon write more detailed posts about those impressionable moments last May. [See Citadel Men, Margraten Boys and a Debt of Honor which was written by Major Steve Smith, ’84, and posted October 2013.]
Eight Citadel Men, our “Margraten Boys”, rest in peace in South Limburg, and thanks to the local people who have adopted their graves and names they are remembered everyday.