Faces of Margraten Planned for May 2-6, 2018; Group Still in Search of New Photos

In what has become a tradition, Netherlands American Cemetery will host The Faces of Margraten May 2-6, 2018. Organized by the Stichting Verenigde Adoptanten Amerikaanse Oorlogsgraven (SVAAO), The Faces of Margraten works to bring a face to every person honored at Netherlands American Cemetery. This unique tribute, created and organized by these Dutch and Belgian volunteers, aims  to thank the Americans who gave their lives during the liberation of the southern Netherlands. When visitors come that weekend and walk the grounds, they will see photos next to headstones and the Tablets of the Missing. “The response that we have had to the Faces of Margraten project has been remarkable,” said Keith Stadler, superintendent of Netherlands American Cemetery. “People feel such a profound connection when they are able to see the faces of these young men and women that it leaves with them an impression that will last a very long time indeed.”

When the program began in 2015, SVAAO had collected more than 3,000 photos for the inaugural event that drew more than 25,000 people to the cemetery. And since that time, the group has been working diligently to collect more photos. But because World War II ended more than 72 years ago, collecting these images is not a simple task.

SVAAO has outreached to American families in search of photos. They’ve contacted small-town American newspapers to have stories printed about this effort. This work has led to the discovery of photos in dusty albums and yearbooks. To date SVAAO has collected more than more than 5,300 photos for Faces of Margraten—more than half the number of people honored at the cemetery. But they still have more work to do. “We really hope to put a face to each and every name,” said Sebastiaan Vonk, chairman of SVAAO. “We encourage not only relatives to submit photos of their loved-ones, but also others to look around in their own community to see if a photo of a service member honored at Netherlands American Cemetery is available.

Anyone can submit a photo for The Faces of Margraten—it does not have to be a family member. SVAAO is hoping to connect with more libraries and historical societies in the United States this year in hopes they reach the 6,000th photo by the time The Faces of Margraten occurs in May. To see if your family member or friend already has a photo on file, visit the website.

About the American Battle Monuments Commission:

Established by Congress in 1923, the American Battle Monuments Commission commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of U.S. armed forces. ABMC administers 26 overseas military cemeteries, and 29 memorials, monuments, and markers.