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A VISIT TO MOLENHOEK

Nijmegen, Holland
November 11, 1945

Dear Mom
   There were a thousand things that I wanted to tell you in this letter, but now with pen and paper in hand, my mind is at a loss to record them.  I must, at least, tell you where I've been today, and what I've seen and heard.
   Arriving early this morning, on the night train from Brussels (Belgium), I found it a relief to get out of the uncomfortable wooden seat I'd spent a sleepless night in, and stretch myself.
   As the sun lifted above the horizon I found myself in a peaceful Dutch atmosphere that belied the battle history of this area.  It was here that the German breakthrough occurred a year ago this autumn. But now all is quiet here, except for the children

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running off to school in the morning, or an occasional British lorry lumbering through on its way elsewhere.
   On one of those lorries, i hitched a ride out of the city, past the colorful outskirts so unlike anything seen in America.  Five kilometers out along the open highway is the village of Molenhoek.  Its Molenhoek I want to tell you about, Mother, because it was there that the 82nd Airborne division made its historic jump to stem the German advance and protect the vital bridge in Nijmegen, and it's there that many of them gave their lives, and will rest forever in cross-lined fields.  There will be this one corner of Holland which will forever be American, because nearly a thousand American paratroopers are here to make it so.
   I wish I could tell you of my impressions while visiting the cemetery, but

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anything I'd say would be inadequate.  It's beautiful there, quiet and beautiful.  I know you want me to say Daune's grave looks nice, and it does, but each individual grave is lost in the maze of the neat row after row of other white crosses, and assumes a dignity and beauty which is immeasurable and intangible by itself.  Do you know what I'm trying to say, Mom? It's just that the wholeness of the place carries a value far over and above any of its parts because it represents the loyalty and courage of a group of men who loved life and were loved by life.
   The cemetery is located within sight of some of the spots where the paratroopers had their battles.  A 15-year old Dutch boy who speaks very good English and who was here at the time of the operations, spent the afternoon showing me the battle

 


Daune's grave marker bearing his enlisted number although he had been commissioned three weeks prior  to his death. He may not have yet received a new set of dog tags.

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fields, the hills the Germans were chased from, the foxholes and gun positions. These people know and love our war dead in a much different and maybe more intimate way than we do.  Two little girls asked me if I'd let them take care of Daune's grave, put flowers on it on Sundays and tend it.  I know they have been anyway, and will continue regardless of what I said.
   The history of those paratroopers will live a long time in the hearts and minds of these people.  I spent hours listening to the stories they had to tell about the days the Americans fought there before the British came to relieve them.   Before I knew it, it was dusk, and I had to reluctantly take my leave of Molenhoek to catch my night train back to Brussels.  Now it is dark and my train will soon be here, but I just had to write you while everything was still fresh in my mind.

Your son,
Rick

(letter written by Rick Morris (brother of Daune Morris)

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