Rangers - WWII Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial
Rangers who rest in the soils they liberated headstone photos at the Netherlands American Cemetery
The Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial is the only American military cemetery in the Netherlands. The cemetery site has a rich historical background, lying near the famous Cologne-Boulogne highway built by the Romans and used by Caesar during his campaign in that area. The highway was also used by Charlemagne, Charles V, Napoleon, and Kaiser Wilhelm II. In May 1940 Hitler's legions advanced over the route of the old Roman highway, overwhelming the Low Countries. In September 1944, German troops once more used the highway for their withdrawal from the countries occupied for four years.
The cemetery's tall memorial tower can be seen before reaching the site, which covers 65.5 acres. From the cemetery entrance visitors are led to the Court of Honor with its pool reflecting the tower. At the base of the tower facing the reflecting pool is a statue representing women who have suffered loss. To the right and left, respectively, are the visitor building and the map room containing three large, engraved operations maps with texts depicting the military operations of the American armed forces. Stretching along the sides of the court are Tablets of the Missing on which are recorded 1,722 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.
Within the tower is a chapel. The light fixture in the chapel and the altar candelabra and flower bowl were presented by the government of the Netherlands and by the local provincial administration. Beyond the tower is a burial area divided into 16 plots, where rest 8,288 of our military dead, their headstones set in long curves. A wide, tree-lined mall leads to the flagstaff that crowns the crest.
Unique to the cemetery is the connection with the Dutch people. Since 1945 members of the local community have adopted the grave sites of our fallen. They bring flowers to the cemetery and research the life of the service member as a way to honor their sacrifice. Today, the Foundation for Adopting Graves at the American Cemetery Margraten manages this program. With a similar intention the Foundation United Adopters American War Graves created a program known as The Faces of Margraten. This group collects photos of our fallen, and sponsors a bi-annual event at the cemetery during Dutch Memorial Day weekend. More than 3,000 photos are on display that weekend next to headstones and the Walls of the Missing, bringing visitors face-to-face with their liberators.