The World War II Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial is a war cemetery which lies in the village of Margraten 10 km (6 mi) east of Maastricht, in the most southern part of the Netherlands. It is administered by the AmericanBattle Monuments Commission..
The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) is a small independent agency of the United States that administers, operates, and maintains permanent U.S. military cemeteries, memorials and monuments both inside and outside the United States.
As of 2015, there are 25 sites under the care of the ABMC. There are 124,905 U.S. servicemen and servicewomen interred at these sites, and more than 94,000 missing in action, or lost or buried at sea, whose names are individually carved into monuments.
The Netherland´s cemetery site has a rich historical background, lying near the famous Cologne-Boulogne highway, originally built by the Romans and used by Julius Caesar during his campaign in that area. The highway was also used by Charlemagne, Charles V, Napoleon and Kaiser Wilhelm II. In May 1940, Adolf 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 the withdrawal from the countries occupied for four years.
The tall memorial tower can be seen before reaching the cemetery which covers 26.5 hectares (65.5 acres). From the cemetery entrance the visitor approaches through the Court of Honor with its pool reflecting the chapel tower. The visitors’ building is on the right and the museum with its three engraved operations maps describing the achievements of the American Armed Forces
in the area during World War II is on the left. At the base of the tower facing the reflecting pool is a statue representing the grieving mother of her lost son.
The walls on either side of the Court of Honor contain the Tablets of the Missing on which are recorded the names of 1,722 American missing who gave their lives in the service of their country and who rest in unknown graves. Beyond the chapel and tower is the burial area which is divided into sixteen plots. Here rest 8,301 American dead, most of whom lost their lives nearby. Their headstones are set in long curves. A wide tree-lined mall leads to the flag staff which crowns the crest. One famous grave is of General Maurice Rose who was killed in an ambush, age 45, on 30-05-1945 near Paderborn, Germany.
Each year on Memorial Day (28 May) the dead are commemorated. In 2005, President Bush attended a large solemn meeting marking the first time an American president visited the cemetery. The following quote is from a speech President Bush gave that day:
|“||On this peaceful May morning we commemorate a great victory for liberty, and the thousands of white marble crosses and Stars of David underscore the terrible price we pay for that victory. For the Americans who rest here, Dutch soil provides a fitting home. It was from a Dutch port that many of our pilgrim fathers first sailed for America. It was a Dutch port that gave the American flag its first gun salute. It was the Dutch who became one of the first foreign nations to recognize the independence of the new United States of America. And when American soldiers returned to this continent to fight for freedom, they were led by a President (Roosevelt) who owed his family name to this great land.|