ARLINGTON, Va., April 27, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of white marble headstones dot the landscape at Netherlands American Cemetery, where more than 10,000 Americans that lost their lives in World War II are honored.
Through The Faces of Margraten, running May 1-May 5, 2016, the Dutch will pay special tribute by placing a personal photo of the soldier next to his headstone or name on the Walls of the Missing. This effort is a unique tribute created and organized by Dutch volunteers who want to thank the Americans that gave their lives during the liberation of the southern Netherlands.
Because World War II ended more than 70 years ago, collecting these photos has not been a simple task. During the inaugural Faces of Margraten in 2015, personal photos were available for about 3,300 of the Americans buried in or memorialized at the cemetery. For this year's tribute, the group has brought the photo total up to more than 4,000. They've done this through countless hours of outreach to American families and media outlets. Small town American newspapers have printed stories about this effort—leading to the discovery of photos in dusty albums and yearbooks.
Last year 25,000 grateful Dutch citizens came to the cemetery during the Faces of Margraten to pay their respects. "The number of people that came out showed that people widely continue to recognize the importance of remembering those to whom we owe our freedom, even 70 years after the end of World War II," says Sebastiaan Vonk, chairman of the Foundation United Adopters American War Graves, which organizes the tribute. "Looking at these photos makes you realize that they were not just soldiers; they were young individuals like us with a family, friends, interests, and dreams. We could have been them had we lived in a different time and place."
"This Dutch initiative sends a powerful message that not only are the sacrifices made by so many young Americans over 70 years ago still appreciated, but they are as relevant today as they have ever been," said Keith Stadler, Superintendent of Netherlands American Cemetery.
About the American Battle Monuments Commission:
Established in 1923 by Congress, ABMC is a U.S. government agency charged with commemorating the service, achievements and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed forces where they have served overseas since 1917. ABMC administers our nation's overseas commemorative cemeteries and federal memorials. For more information visit www.abmc.gov.
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SOURCE American Battle Monuments Commission