Answer to Sybil in diary – GWB visits Margraten in Limburg, the Netherlands!

Secret Service wanted to shut down about 50% of the Limburg province.   Was unacceptable, in the end agreed to let GWB stay the night in beautiful small village of Valkenburg, near the Allied cemetery Margraten. I wrote about this in my recent diary: TODAY – Liberation Day – May 5th

I will provide some more INFO about the cemetery, created just inside the border with Germany near Aachen. During the 1944-45 battles as the Allied forces moved east toward Berlin, the Allied rule is that the soldiers cannot be laid to rest in enemy territory.


More to follow about the American Military Cemetery in Margraten —
In 1946 there were some 18,970 soldiers laid to rest in Margraten. Each grave has been adopted by a Dutch citizen, for a regular visit and to place flowers. Today there are some 8,300 graves left and the 3rd generation, the grandchildren of the Dutch, take care of the task for regular visits. The stories broadcast today, interviews with the veterans who come to visit their comrades are heartbreaking still!

One special story was about Pfc. Jack Cook, an orphan 14 years old when he enlisted in 1943, and was shipped to Europe for the Great War. Jack was big for his age, and got his stepmother to promise not to reveal his age to the military. Jack Cook fought in the Ardennes, Belgium during the battle of the Bulge. That was in December 1944 when the Germans made one last attempt to cut through Belgium to reach the port of Antwerp, and deal the Allies a blow.

In spring 1945, Jack’s stepmother went to the Army to reveal his true age. Immediately, an order was sent to relieve Jack from his battle duties, now across the border in Germany. The order arrived one day too late. In Jack’s last fight, he was the first soldier to approach a German stronghold, when a white flag of surrender was waved. A sniper’s bullet ended his life. Jack Cook has his final restplace in Margraten, a beautiful countryside he helped liberate.

South-Limburg Gulp Valley


I never get emotional about WWII anymore, when a veteran on visit told the story of Jack Cook yesterday on radio, I couldn’t keep it dry, when I jotted down his comment.

I believe when war effects the lives of millions, each life is precious. This is the story of Jack Cook, who still lives forth 60 years later, in the thoughts and hearts of his battlefield buddies!

I will also use this diary to keep UPDATES on Bush’s visit to the Netherlands today and any Bush speak on foreign policy before he travels to Russia and Georgia.

Jack Cook Silver Medal Recipient
17th Airborne – WWII

Patton’s Third U.S. Army had finally broken the siege at Bastogne with a marathon thrust from the south. Upon arriving the 513th PIR and the other elements of the 17th Airborne Division were attached to Patton’s Third U.S. Army and ordered to immediately close in at Mourmelon. After taking over the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to Verdun on 25 December, the 17th moved to Neufchateau, Belgium, then marched through the snow to Morhet, relieving the 28th Infantry Division on 3 January 1945 and establishing a Division Command Post.

In the ensuing days, the 513th PIR would gain their baptism of fire that would have tested the mettle of the most experienced airborne units. General Patton had ordered the 17th Airborne to seize the town of Flamierge where the 11th Armour and the 87th Infantry Divisions had encountered brutal resistance from the Germans.


“This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with
               ………Franklin Delano Roosevelt – June 27,1936

XVIII Airborne Corps — 17th Airborne Division

Stretching along the side of the Court are the two Walls of the Missing on which are recorded the names of 1,722 who gave their lives in the service of their Country but who rest in unknown graves. Beyond the tower containing the chapel is the burial area, divided into 16 plots, where rest 8,301 of our military Dead, their headstones set in long curves. A wide tree-lined mall leads to the flag staff which crowns the crest.

The light fixture in the chapel, and the altar candelabra and flowerbowl were presented by the Government of the Netherlands and by the local Provincial administration.

Weeping figure for all left behind
with olive tree of hope

State of Emergency as proclaimed by Mayor at Valkenburg a/d Geul

City Proclamation

In consideration:

  • that on 7 and 8 May the President of the United States visits South-Limburg;
  • that except the President, he is accompanied on his visit by his wife and the Secretary of State;
  • that the arrival and departure of the President will be Maastricht-Aachen Airport in the city of Beek;
  • […]

The State of Emergency in pdf file, eight pages long, includes an area map with the security zones and NOGO areas marked. The perimeter is protected by 3 miles of razor-barbed wire.
Welcome Mr. President!



Must Have Been Agony for George Today …

at Margraten, listening to the speech of Dutch PM Jan Peter Balkenende, his best speech ever IMO, when Balkenende took a quote from FDR in 1941.

Quote from speech by Jan Peter Balkenende at Margraten

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that freedom is incomplete without freedom from want and freedom from fear. He also said, “The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.”

The truth of what he said in 1941, can still be recognised – must still be recognised – here, at Margraten, on the eighth of May 2005.

We must not leave anyone behind. We must never take freedom for granted. We must keep working with our partners in the West and East.

Franklin D. Roosevelt — Four Freedoms Award

VIDEO link to Dutch News broadcast – forgive the moments when Dutch is spoken.

The essence of PM speech was a call for all nations to join and unite to ward off adversaries through dialogue in search of permanent peace.


The commemoration at the War Memorial in Margraten has just finished. It was a sober but impressive ceremony with salute firing squad, missing man formation in joint fly-over, taps and a military band playing short march music themes. George and Laura enjoyed themselves, were very informal with extensive handshaking afterwards and meeting the veterans. Queen Beatrix was present to accompany the president, as both expressed their appreciation to the fallen heroes by symbolism of wreath laying at the 30m high memorial.

The PM and GW both referred to Anne Frank in their speeches. I believe GW mentioned Iraq and terror only ONCE, unbelievable. George must have spent breakfast at the invitation of Beatrix, who is known for her sympathy for pacifism.

President Bush at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial
Transcript of speech at Margraten