King to attend Memorial Day in Margraten

On Sunday 24 May His Majesty King Willem-Alexander will attend the Memorial Day ceremony at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. The King will lay the first wreath during the ceremony, which this year will be considerably shorter and will not be attended by members of the public, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday in May, the United States honours and mourns its fallen soldiers. The commemoration ceremony in Margraten is traditionally held on the preceding Sunday. The Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten was created by the US Army on 10 November 1944. The location had been liberated by US troops in September 1944 and shortly after was permanently designated as a burial ground by the Dutch government.

At the ceremony, the US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, and the King’s Commissioner in the province of Limburg, Theo Bovens, will each give a short speech. The Dutch Minister of Defence, Ank Bijleveld, will also be present. After the ceremony the King will meet with the superintendent of the American Battle Monuments Commission in Margraten and with a Dutch family that has adopted a grave of an American soldier. The family keeps in contact with the soldier’s descendants and regularly lays flowers on the grave.

Ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands began in 2019 and will continue in the course of 2020. Various of these celebrations and commemorations are attended by members of the Dutch royal house.