Black Liberators of the Netherlands
November 22, 2018 7:48 AM   Subscribe

At the American Military Cemetery in Margraten, large oak trees flanked a path that wound through a sea of crosses and Stars of David. An American flag waved in the distance. Among the dead buried here are 172 African-American soldiers, killed during World War II who helped liberate the Netherlands from the Nazis in 1945. David McGhee's grandfather, Willie F. Williams, is one of them.

Dutch families have adopted and care for the graves in the Netherlands American Cemetery (previously).

"Many stories of white deceased soldiers buried in the Margraten cemetery have been collected in publications, books, documentaries and pictures. However, only a couple of stories about the African-Americans are known. In the summer of 2014, a first list of names of these African-American buried in the cemetery or mentioned on the Wall of the Missing was put together. Subsequent research led to a final list of 172 African-Americans (pdf). Although all American Army victims are buried at random, because ‘death knows no color’, it was possible to construct the list due to a race code on the burial certificates. Those of African-American soldiers mentioned ‘race code 2’. Of only four of them we know about their biographical background.

We hope you can help us to learn more about these liberators.
posted by ChuraChura (3 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for posting this! For those who can read Dutch, or know how to use machine translation, here is a great article about these soldiers.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:31 AM on November 22, 2018

What a beautiful story!
It still blows my mind that my grandfathers served in a segregated Army and Navy.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:17 AM on November 22, 2018

Not only has each war grave been adopted by a caretaker there was, and probably still is, a waiting list of people ready to take over. I bet some of them even tend graves when it is windy or rainy.
posted by epo at 11:25 AM on November 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

« Older "Silence is unbearable, especially on Thanksgiving...   |   Mere Subsistence Is Not Enough Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments