The people in the Dutch village of Margraten have never forgotten the debt they owe to the United States for liberating Europe from German occupation during World War II. A physical reminder of the heroism of US troops lies in Margraten, where the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial is the final resting place for 8,301 American soldiers who perished during the war.
Each grave is adopted by a Dutch family who visits the cemetery regularly to pay respects to the fallen. The Mergelland Mannenkoor is a perfect illustration of the Dutch commitment to honor American World War II soldiers.
The Mergelland Mannenkoor male choir, based in Margraten, performs a repertoire of religious and secular songs, many of which are directly related to their gratitude to the American servicemen buried in the Netherlands.
The 30 men of the choir are descendants of families who are deeply attached to the history and importance of the Netherlands American Cemetery. Their families witnessed the bodies of American soldiers being transported through the village of Margraten, and many local men assisted in digging graves as the cemetery was built in 1944 and 1945.
“The bond between the Netherlands and the United States is built to last. It is a bond based on shared history, friendship, service and appreciation. The Mergelland Mannenkoor strengthens the ties between our nations every time they lift their voice in song,” said Henne Schuwer, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United States.
Performance at the Netherlands Carillon
The Mergelland Mannenkoor will visit the Washington, D.C. region September 28-30. While in the area, the choir will perform at the Netherlands Carillon in honor of World War II operation “Market Garden.” Mergelland Mannenkoor will also sing at a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial organized by the American WW2 Orphans Network (AWON).
The choir and AWON share a special bond. Many of the AWON members’ fathers are buried in Margraten and AWON has developed connections with the residents of Margraten who have adopted their fathers’ graves. The choir travels to Orange County, VA, named after a Dutch prince in 1734, to perform for the local community at the Orange Baptist Church.
Before visiting the D.C. area, the choir will travel to U.S. Military Academy (West Point) to make a presentation on the Netherlands American Cemetery adoption program, as well as meet with World War II veteran organizations.