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The Faces of Margraten tribute to be postponed until 2021

Published: Friday, March 20 2020

The biennial The Faces of Margraten tribute at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in the Dutch town of Margraten will not take place this year. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Netherlands aimed to put a face to at least 7,500 of the 10,000 U.S. soldiers who are memorialized at the cemetery. The Dutch would decorate the graves and the names on the Walls of the Missing with personal photos of the soldiers to that end. However, because of the ongoing situation with COVID-19, it is believed to be in the interest of all to postpone the tribute and reschedule it in 2021.

Both the virus itself as well as resulting government policies led to the decision to postpone. “The 75th anniversary is a special occasion and, therefore, somewhere between fifty and a hundred relatives planned to attend this special commemoration. However, many of them saw themselves forced to cancel their trips out of rightful concerns about their own health, as well as because of the travel regulations put in place,” says chairman Sebastiaan Vonk of the Fields of Honor Foundation

“We really want them to be there, but nobody knows whether the situation will improve in the upcoming weeks or even in the upcoming months. Out an abundance of caution, we decided it would be both in the interest of them and our other 20,000 expected visitors to postpone.” 

The foundation itself has also run into organization difficulties because of the near lockdown. 

The new dates for the tribute are expected to be announced later this year. 

7,500 faces

Nevertheless, both Americans and Dutch had been working hard in the past months to locate the faces of the soldiers whose photos had not been yet found. Their efforts led the tribute to being close to achieving its goal of finding 7,500 faces, with already 7,450 faces having been found. In total, volunteers have located so far 1,600 new photos since the last time the photos were on display in 2018. 

An online map inspired Americans to look for the faces of soldiers who came from their communities. Last week, the tribute also posted a video with a call to the American public to join in the quest for the missing photos.

“Of course we feel for all our volunteers, who have spent dozens, if not hundreds, of hours on finding these faces. Fortunately, their efforts will not have been in vain as all the faces that they have found so far and will find in the time to come, will be on display at the cemetery next year,” Vonk says. The tribute calls for everyone to continue the quest for photos.

Not forgotten

Even though the photos won’t be on display, the Dutch will make sure that these soldiers are not forgotten. The tribute will publish a book called The Faces of Margraten: They will remain forever young this May. This book is a tribute on paper to all the soldiers memorialized at the Netherlands American Cemetery. In addition to all their 10,000 names being listed in the book, the book tells the stories of 200 of them and includes 500 of their faces. While this book, made on the occasion of the 75th anniversary, will only be in available in Dutch in the beginning, an English edition is expected to follow later.

All the faces are furthermore posted on soldiers’ memorial pages in the online Fields of Honor – Databaseanother project of the foundation.

“Above all,” Vonk believes, “it always is in our collective memories and thoughts where ultimately true commemoration takes place, even when we cannot visit the cemetery. As an inscription at the cemetery reads:

 ‘Each for his own memorial earned praise that will never die and with it the grandest of all sepulchers. Not that in which his mortal bones are laid, but a home in the minds of men.’”


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!