Saturday, June 5, 2010

Margraten American Cemetary

Last weekend, we visited the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten. We stood (and sat) in the pouring rain during the Memorial Day Ceremony that honored the American soldiers and airmen who had died in this area. Mother Nature and the impressive amount of visitors didn't give us much of a chance to really look around and take it all in, so we decided to go back this Saturday. The cemetery is beautiful. And so peaceful. It was built as a final resting place for the members of the American Air Force and Army who died in the Allied Operations, September 1944- Spring 1945. To the left of the main court is a small building that houses the maps. Three maps are engraved on the walls: Operation Market, crossing the Roer and heading to the Rhine, and Normandy. There are two walls flanking the Court of Honor (the main area of the Memorial). This is the left wall.The names and information of the 1,722 soldiers and airmen who were missing in action are listed on these walls.The reflecting pool is in the center of the Court of Honor. Behind it is the Memorial Tower. It is 101 feet tall, and it's exterior walls are built out of English Portland Stone. So are the walls flanking the tower. American Oak trees are planted just outside the walls.The visitors building is on the right side of the court, just as you enter. If you are looking for a particular grave site, they can help you find it. At the head of the reflecting pool is "The Mourning Woman" statute. She is made of bronze, and has three doves flying over her shoulder. The wreaths from last weekends ceremony were still there. You can see the flag pole in background.This is the view of the Memorial Tower from the flag pole. There are 8,301 headstones in Margraten Cemetery: 8,122 Latin crosses, and 179 Stars of David.At the base of the Memorial Tower is the Chapel. There is a bronze relief of the Tree of Life on it's doors. The crown chandelier in the Chapel was donated by the people of the Netherlands. These words were engraved on the wall of the Chapel: O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging and a Holy rest, and peace at the last.
Margraten Cemetery covers 65.5 acres. It's very peaceful. There are benches here and there, so you can sit and think. There are 40 sets of brothers buried here. 6 Medal of Honor recipients. 8,301 headstones. 1,722 Missing In Action.
Each and every one of them is a hero.

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