Honoring the Fallen: A day of remembrance

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rusty Frank
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the second of a four-part series in honoring our fallen heroes.

Under the warmth of the sun during a summer day in May, the silence is deafening throughout the Netherlands American Cemetery during a Memorial Day ceremony.

Thousands of civilians and military service members swarmed to the cemetery to pay tribute to the memory of these heroes. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Murieen, 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron section chief of water and fuel systems maintenance, was one of the Airmen.

"I'm here to honor the 8,301 service members that are laid to rest here mostly from Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge," he said.

Murieen also brought 16 fellow Airmen with him to participate in the ceremony.

"I'm here to honor those who fought for us and made it possible for me to be here at the ceremony," said Airman 1st Class Grover Meredith, a 52nd CES water and fuels systems maintenance journeyman.

For these Airmen, it provides a humbling experience to be at the cemetery in uniform.

"I feel honored and privileged to be able to represent the U.S. Air Force and our country and to never forget those who served before us," Meredith said.

Similar to many Memorial Day events, there were different guest speakers. For this ceremony, one of the guest speakers was Anne Roosevelt, the granddaughter of former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. During the ceremony, Roosevelt talked about how the honored dead fought for peace and about her reactions to being one of the guest speakers.

"I have to say that this is pretty overwhelming," she said. "First of all these graves, the vast vista of lives ended so that others might be free.

"It is pretty overwhelming to me to stand here as the representative of their commander in chief," she added.

A ceremony like the one held at this cemetery is unique in the sense that it shows partnership between allied nations.

"The ceremony here at Margraten is more unique or elaborate than any other of the cemeteries being that the Dutch have such a partnership with us," Murieen said. "There are 76 wreathes to be laid--that's almost triple the wreathes than what most ceremonies have--and the Dutch being very prolific with the flowers, are always pretty elaborately done as well. A unique thing done here is that each Airman wreath layer is partnered with a Dutch Soldier."

At the end of the ceremony the Dutch provided a fly over with their military aircraft in the missing man formation. It was with this conclusion that left a lasting memory for the Airmen.

"The lasting impression that I want to leave with the Airmen would be to never forget, what happened here and all over the world at different battles," said Murieen. "It's our duty as Airmen, as members of the United States military, to remember to honor the memory and to keep it alive."