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75 years in freedom, 7,500 faces

Both 2019 and 2020 will be remarkable years. During these years, people from all over the world will commemorate and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The end of the war in the Netherlands came closer when U.S. soldiers crossed the border near the town of Mesch on September 12, 1944, which became the first town to be liberated. However, it would take until May 5, 1945 before the country was fully liberated. And that liberation came at a heavy price for those who fought for it. That is why we will say thank you to our American liberators who have been buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in the town of Margrten. We pay tribute to them by decorating their graves and names on the Walls of the Missing with a photo. We gave our liberators our face. And for this 75th anniversary, we are looking for at least 7,500 faces. Join us in our quest and help to put a face to those who sacrificed their all for our freedom.

 

Remarks Deputy Governer Koopmans

Deputy Governor Koopmans shared remarks on behalf of the Province of Limburg. Read his remarks here.

Ladies and gentlemen,

De Gezichten van Margraten-21As the Deputy Governor, it is an honor for me to speak to you on this very special and valuable stretch of American land, in our beloved province of Limburg. Buried in these twenty-six acres of fertile ground are the bodies of over eight thousand soldiers. Young men and women, who gave their lives and surrendered their own futures for the freedom of a people unknown to them. Every day, countless people visit these grounds. Not just the families of those who have found their final resting place here, but also many local folk who come to pay their respects. Many of them have even adopted a grave here. This goes to show that this memorial and cemetery are important parts of the heart and soul of the south of Limburg.

The graves here, at our feet, leave a deep impression with every visit. They leave an even deeper impression when we put faces to the names, which is what we do today.

There are over 3.000 photographs here. Pictures like the ones we all have at home, in albums, on the mantle or simply pinned to the fridge. Snapshots that we have in our wallets, on our smartphones. Instant recollections of happier days.

The photographs of the soldiers we commemorate, and to whom we are so very grateful, are especially gripping. Because they come so close to home. Intimate pictures taken among families and friends. The lives from which they were torn. It could have just as well been you or me in these pictures.

Not only the futures of the soldiers who lie here, but also the futures of their friends and loved ones were reduced to nothing with a single blow. To nothing, but not for nothing. They gave their futures in exchange for ours, in freedom. We have been living here in freedom, for seventy years now. Free from war, free from fear. Thanks to these thousands of souls, and many more.

We must never again forget their sacrifice, for the sake of their souls. Souls that were the founders of a united Europe. The souls of Americans who came here to save the old continent for a second time. Let us hope and pray that there will never again be a next time.

Ladies and gentlemen. Some may say that time heals all wounds. Those who have lost their loved ones may not fully share the sentiment. Even now, after seventy years, many of us still
experience deep feelings of grief over the loss of son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister or friend. The loss of those who never returned. Let these 3.000 photographs be a tangible, joyful memory.

Most people in Limburg today were born after the 1945. They have not experienced the horrors of war and battle first-hand. The photographs, the faces we see, help us re-live the history. They give true meaning to to the concept of freedom.

This is why we are grateful for the initiative that we are opening here today. And I am convinced that many, many visitors will get to know the faces of Margraten that gave us the freedom we cherish to this very day.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Photo The Faces of Margraten/Moniek Wegdam

Donate

Would you like to contribute to keeping the memory alive? By donating just 12.50 dollars, you will enable us to give a face to one soldier. You can directly donate 12.50 dollars via your credit card or PayPal by clicking the button below. Click here if you want to read more or donate another amount. Thank you for your support!

Mollie

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