When the priest asked parishioners to "adopt" the graves of Americans in the nearby U.S. Military Cemetery at Margraten, The Netherlands, Harry Van Der Tuyn thought it might be a small but altogether fitting means of repaying the liberators of his country. At first his soldier was unknown to Van Der Tuyn, except for the name Pfc. Edward John Magee on the plain white marker.
That was seven years ago, and Van Der Tuyn and his wife have faithfully performed their task ever since. They prayed for the fallen soldier and, on Memorial Day, Magee's birthday and all Holy Days, they put fresh flowers on the grave. When Van Der Tuyn learned the name of the soldier's brother, he wrote to Bordentown, N. J. to give him an account of his works. James Magee Jr. promptly answered, and a long and warm correspondence began.
The Dutch family learned that Pfc. Magee, a lively kid, had left college and joined the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor. He shipped overseas, worked as an engineer in England and along the famed Red Ball Express through France, and got safely through the war. Three weeks after V-E Day, in May 1945, Magee was on duty as a sapper, clearing out old minefields near Bremerhaven. An unexploded mine went off, killing him instantly. He was 23.
James Magee, who is publisher of the weekly Bordentown Register, learned from the letters from Holland that the Van Der Tuyns' fondest hope was to go to America and settle down there. He encouraged them, and the Dutch family studied diligently, soon began to write him in clumsy English.
This week the dream came true: the Van Der Tuyns were on the high seas, bound for the U.S. and a new life. When they land at Hoboken this week, James Magee will be at dockside to welcome them. As their sponsor, he has promised to provide shelter for the Van Der Tuyns and their six apple-cheeked children, to help father Van Der Tuyn get a job. Back in Holland, Pfc. Magee's grave will not be forgotten: Madame Van Der Tuyn's sister has promised to care for it.