Because of the bravery of these and other people of color before us, the 2 million African Americans who have returned from our more recent conflicts continue to build on a military foundation that is increasingly diverse and inclusive.
In 1944, Allied forces began liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation. Among these soldiers were black GIs whose role in the liberation had largely been overlooked in historical accounts. Now, the Black Liberators Project seeks to highlight the service and sacrifice of these soldiers, including the 172 buried in Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten.
As a schoolboy three quarters of a century ago, Marcel Schmetz would regularly see open trucks rumble past to a makeshift American cemetery — filled with bodies, some headless, some limbless, blood seeping from the vehicles onto the roads that the U.S. soldiers had given their lives to liberate.