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Honoring the Ultimate Sacrifice

Porter Garner III '79 May 20, 2021 4:18 PM updated: May 28, 2021 10:01 AM

May 28, 2021

At the close of World War II, an orchard just outside Margraten was selected as the burial site for Americans who died to liberate the Netherlands from Nazi occupation. The lush green grass and surrounding trees provide a tranquil final resting place for more than 8,300 American soldiers, with another 1,722 memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the cemetery’s entrance. Among those honored are 21 Aggies.

Though buried far from home, these men are remembered as family by those they liberated. Each year since 1945, families, schools and military organizations from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany have adopted each of the graves, lovingly placing flowers on birthdays, dates of death and Memorial Day. Today, 76 years after the conclusion of World War II, hundreds remain on a waiting list to adopt a grave and carry on this noble duty of gratitude.

As we approach the Memorial Day weekend, I hope we will all take inspiration from the Dutch, Belgians and Germans who have honored these American heroes as their own. I invite you to join with members of The Association of Former Students’ Board of Directors and staff as we each find our own unique way to commemorate the sacrifice of more than 1.3 million American lives lost in service to our nation, including more than 1,100 Aggies.

Our campus honors these Aggies with trees surrounding the Simpson Drill Field, with monuments near the arches of the Corps of Cadets Quadrangle and throughout the Memorial Student Center. We remember and revere them for their service and sacrifice and embodiment of our core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service.

I am exceedingly proud to be a part of a school that recognizes and remembers such sacrifice in significant ways year after year. Like those who have adopted soldiers at the Netherlands American Cemetery, we recognize the debt we owe to those who have sacrificed for freedom here and abroad and our duty to remember them always.

The poet Wallace Bruce said it well, “who kept the faith and fought the fight; the glory theirs, the duty ours.

With Deepest Gratitude,

Porter S. Garner III ’79
President and CEO

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