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…)