Memorial Day 2006 at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial Margraten, the Netherlands

Michiel´s son Koen at the grave of
2nd Lt. Michael O´Grady


Hello, I am Michiel Schipper from Leiden and this week my son and I travelled to the American Cemetery in Margraten for Memorial Day.

I have seen many memorial services because I think that we cannot take our freedom for granted. A lot of suffering and sorrow preceded this freedom. A lot of people gave their lives for our freedom and this is why I visited the Margraten cemetery many times.

To contribute my own effort to ensure that this can never be forgotten, I applied for the adoption of a fallen U.S. soldier's gravesite. When I was appointed to a certain Fallen Hero in 2005, I felt very satisfied, because from my point of view, I finally got the opportunity to pay my debt, in spite of the fact that all this took place two generation's earlier. That is how my son and I decided to travel to Limburg early in the morning, with a flower arrangement to attend the Memorial Day ceremonies and pay respect to them who earned this. At arrival Koen and I first went to 'our' soldier. This soldier is 2nd Lieutenant Michael D O`Grady from Spokane County, Washington, who was a co-pilot of a bomberplane which was shot down on 11 January 1944 in the vicinity of the Dutch town of Raalte.

His gravesite was as usual meticulously taken care of and the fields where all 8301 fallen soldiers were laid to rest were as always maintained with fine workmanship and it all was very impressive.

We walked amongst many graves and spoke to many people, including two soldiers of the contemporary 82nd Airborne Division who were there.


Michiel´s son Koen with 82nd Airborne soldiers

When at 15.00 hours the ceremony started the memorial service was beautifully stipulated by two military bands which played very nice commemorative music. Memorial Day is a genuine American ceremony, including a Colour Guard and a Firing Party which fired a salute during the ceremony. Many people held speeches and many wreaths were placed.

The memorial Service concluded with an impressive fly-over, the kind of which are performed by the American Airforce when honouring a fallen comrade, where one plane detaches itself from the rest of the squadron and flies up in the sky. This memorial service was one of the most moving moments I experienced, there is so much meaning in witnessing this.


I think that Memorial Day at Margraten is a very touching moment in your life, which is worthwhile attending to, no matter if you have to travel long distances, and I certainly will try to be there every year on this day but undoubtedly on many other days as well, to pay the respect these heroes earned, for now and many, many years to come.

With Kind Regards,

Koen en Michiel Schipper.


Dutch and American military bringing their salute