A Tribute



Adoption Program
in France

NO, They Have Not Been Forgotten

Far from the beautiful shores of America, many of our fallen sons lie on foreign soil today.

Long ago in battle, the bodies of these heroes were brought down by an enemy action and they have laid here for all of these many years.

By whose decision do they still remain on foreign soil, rather than being taken home to their families' local cemetery? Have they been forgotten?

Such questions need a lot of soul searching, deep thought and delving into the reasons why.

First, to relieve the reader's mind and curiosity, the answer is a resounding "NO" they have not been forgotten!

Not long after WWII ended, there was a far-sighted individual in The Netherlands, by the name of Joseph van Laar, from the nearby town of Margraten, who proposed the idea of an adoption program, whereby the local citizens would adopt a grave of their choice, to honor and visit as often as they could into the future. The idea was to offer a tribute to these fallen men, far away from home, as perhaps their families would never have the opportunity to visit their graves personally.

In the Netherlands American Cemetery at Margraten, there are 8,203 graves, and


Margraten Cemetery
for many years, and up to the present, each grave has been adopted by an individual or a family, to be their own "hero and adopted son". So it has gone on until our time, when each grave has been adopted and visited often by their adoptive family.

Long, long ago when these men were killed in battle during WWII in Europe, comrade by comrade, they were buried in temporary graves near where they fell. Later they were reburied in a more permanent site, landscaped and well cared for by our government. Over the next few years, families were given the option of having their loved ones returned to the States, for reburial in their local cemetery and family plot, to facilitate frequent visits by all family members.                                                                      

On the other hand, many families made their soul searching decision to have their beloved son remain on foreign soil where they had fallen, along with their comrades, for the cause of Freedom and Liberty, and to be among their comrades who had also sacrificed their life for the same reason.

Here they are by the thousands. Who is ever going to think of them or care for their grave or pay them an occasional visit ?

Do We Ever Think of Them?
"Lest We Forget"

All of the cemeteries on foreign soil were donated in perpetuity to the government of the United States of America for all time into the future. The American Battle Monuments Commission was given the task of beautifying each site on its own merits for size, landscaping and the general layout plan. So there these heroes lie.

It is very heartwarming to know that these graves have been adopted by a great cross section of society, young, old, male, female, single divorced, and all with the common spirit of satisfaction, Love and thanks for Freedom and Liberty that they experience today.

These adoptive families have not forgotten the trials and tribulations that they or their families had endured during the 4 years, 4 months and 4 days of their occupation by the German/Nazi oppressors. It was these many heroes who remained behind, to become the symbol of Freedom and Liberty for the Dutch people, and this gives them the opportunity to express their most sincere thanks and feelings of Love and appreciation to these heroes.

As one Dutch person related to me, "We were Born Again ! We were given the opportunity to start out on a new life !"


Aerial view of Margraten Cemetery
       

Another said simply, "We owe it to them. They gave their "all" for us".

On and on it goes, with continual tribute paid to our men on many special occasions, as well as personal and private tributes paid on a daily basis.

Over one million visitors per year pay tribute to these men at Margraten.

NO ! They Have Not Been Forgotten !!


Frank W. Towers
28 May 2000
Margraten, The Netherlands

A tribute to our men of the 30th Infantry Division, 350 of whom are buried at this site.

 

Updated August 22, 2001