It is Veterans Day and, as it should be, many events are planned in the area to honor our veterans. For our veterans and all they did to protect our nation, we are eternally grateful.
I want to add one more thank you to our WWII veterans, and it is a personal one.
As I’ve mentioned before, my uncle Billy, my Dad’s older brother, went missing in Germany on Sept. 19, 1944. In spite of much research and three expeditions to find his body, we have been unsuccessful in bringing him home.
I was surprised a few months ago when my father called to tell me that Uncle Billy had been adopted by a man in the Netherlands.
“Adopted?” I asked.
I found out that the family had been contacted by a Dutch gentleman named Danny van der Groen.
As a part of a Dutch non-profit organization, Foundation United Adopters American War Graves, which maintains a Fields of Honor Database, Danny had adopted Billy Frazier.
He and his friends in the group wanted to thank those who fought to liberate their parents and grandparents. They adopt the graves of servicemen who, most likely, will never get a family visit. It is their way of showing respect and honoring those who died. In the database they want to put a face and story with all those thousands of names and long rows of white markers. By doing this they hope to recognize and honor the individual.
The data base can be viewed at http://www.adoptiegraven-database.nl/index.php/home
According to Danny, each person who adopts a deceased serviceman buried in the Allied cemeteries in Europe, or listed as an MIA, promises to visit the grave or marker at least once each year. They learn what they can about the individual, contribute their information to the database, and, if the person is missing, continue the search. Danny plans to visit the site in Germany where my uncle disappeared next weekend.
Currently, Danny has four soldiers that he watches over for families in the U.S.
Last Memorial Day, our new friend left a bouquet of white roses next to Billy’s name on the tablets of the missing at Henri-Chapelle cemetery in Belgium, and it touched us all.
Danny is 30 years old, married, and father of a daughter born on Nov. 11. Since he visited Normandy at the age of 11 he has been fascinated by the men who landed on those beaches and fought to free his homeland. He has read extensively and talked to those who remember what happened there during the War. Watching movies like Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan helped him understand what they had to endure to liberate Europe.
This is a personal story, but when I chat with Danny on the Internet, I can sense the sincere gratitude of this new generation, the generation that was born after the Americans and their Allies went home.
And especially today, on Veterans Day, I want our WWII veterans here in America to know that these sons, daughters and grandchildren of those they liberated in Europe appreciate what they did.
I believe that when these fine young people honor those who died during the liberation of Europe, they are also honoring those who were fortunate enough to sail home on those liberty ships.
Every day the group posts on Facebook a biography of a soldier or group of soldiers who were killed on that day.
After the posting, a variety of comments are added by others in the group. Among the comments are words like, “Respect,” “Rest in Peace,” “Eternal Gratitude” and “…Even today we still appreciate what they did for us.”
We families of the fallen also appreciate what these fine people are doing.
On behalf of my family and my uncle I say, “Dank je wel.” (Thank you very much.)