After two failed attempts, the first due to Covid and the second due to a crowd-controlled concert on the grounds, Teko and I were finally able to get inside the only American military cemetery in the Netherlands, located in Limburg over two hours away from Amsterdam. The first time we were made to turn back was quite disappointing as we were rarely in faraway Limburg and getting another chance would have been years off in the future. With Covid though long term plans tend to go awry, in our case thrice this year to date, and a road trip to Central Europe morphed instead into a road trip to the southernmost part of Limburg, which to be honest feels like another country each time I’m there anyway, so even if our second attempt was again thwarted, all we needed to do was wait another 24 hours to have another go. Monday morning at the cemetery was actually a good idea.
Since the cemetery and memorial are managed by an agency of the U.S. government, the impressively named American Battle Monuments Commission, openings are subject to American rules, which means the gates are open even during local holidays. It also means the host country pays nothing for a beautifully kept memorial, which is not only for the benefit of survivors or relatives of those buried and remembered but also for tourists like us. The pristine grounds are impressive all throughout and I have no doubt costs a pretty penny to maintain. The fact that so much is spent to keep this and many other overseas cemeteries and monuments in top condition says a lot about the resolve and resources of a country that has, for better or worse, given up so many of its citizen and non-citizen soldiers to defend and advance its interests. Whatever one may think of American politics, it’s always good to allow time to think of those who have come and gone ahead of us, and never take history for granted. This feels as relevant and important now as it has ever been.