Memorial Day: The cemetery that remembers veterans year round

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To some, Memorial Day is a day off of work and a time to barbecue. For many Americans, however, it is a day of gratitude to remember the men and women who died serving in the U.S. military. And there may be no better example of that appreciation than on the other side of the world -- in the small Dutch village of Margraten.

Locals visit the Netherlands American Cemetery several times a year to place flowers on the 8,301 headstones belonging to the American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of others. There are also another 1,722 American names inscribed on the Walls of the Missing.

Each grave has been adopted by a local family who periodically stop by their chosen graves to deliver flowers on soldiers’ birthdays, dates of death, Christmas, and Memorial Day. The “Adopt-A-Grave” program was started in 1945, and there is even a waiting list for the honor. In some cases, the privilege has been handed down from generation to generation. 

Margraten was liberated in 1944. Two months later, the first U.S. soldier was buried in the cemetery. By 1946, 17,742 American soldiers had been buried in Margraten -- many of whom would be repatriated to the United States at the request of their families. 

More than 70 years after the war, the four years of Nazi occupation haven't been forgotten in Margraten. Nor has the bravery and sacrifice of the American liberators. 

 

Watch the video to see how the locals have been showing their appreciation for over 70 years. 

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