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The Faces of Margraten

Thousands of white marble crosses and Stars of David, row after row— this is what one sees when overlooking the Netherlands American Cemetery in the town of Margraten, the Netherlands. The markers are a testimony to the sacrifices made by many young American men and women for the freedom of Europe during World War II.

Through The Faces of Margraten project from 2-6 May 2020, the Dutch will pay special tribute to these service members by decorating thousands of graves and names on the Walls of the Missing with personal photos of these men and women. The photos will allow visitors to look into the eyes of their liberators.

This powerful encounter will ensure that the service and sacrifices of young people 75 years ago will not be forgotten. 8,291 of them have found their final resting place in Margraten; another 1,722 missing soldiers have been inscribed at the Walls of the Missing. Volunteers have found over 6,500 faces so far, all which will be on display during the tribute.

Yet The Faces of Margraten is more than a tribute. The project also sends out a message to the future. After all, if anything, the photos of both the soldiers and their relatives show that they were ordinary people, like anybody else. They had a family, friends, jobs, pets. It makes that the photos powerfully remind us that anyone can become a victim of war. Inevitably, the tribute thus also raises questions about how we can maintain peace and freedom. To whom do we pass on the freedoms that we have enjoyed?

The Faces of Margraten is thus both a powerful encounter with the past and a clear message to the future. A solemn moment of remembrance and of reflection.

The Faces of Margraten

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