The "Old Hickory Fund"
The "Old Hickory Fund" was established in 1994 on the occasion of the 50-year liberation of Maastricht and South Limburg.
Our Foundation is named after the American 30th infantry division "Old Hickory" that has liberated Maastricht, among other cities and regions.
In the initial phase, the Foundation received donations from various Dutch and American sponsors and organizations. We started a program with the intention of teaching children of the schools in Maastricht something about freedom and what being free actually means in our time.
This particular project is therefore called "Freedom through education".
We tell children about the importance of peace; they get information about the Second World War and about the role that American soldiers (and others) played in the Second World War. We try to make clear to them that young people gave their lives for our freedom in 1944 and 1945.
In this way the Old Hickory Fund tries to contribute to the education of the youth by making it clear that war can never be a solution to live in peace and that they, in particular, must ensure that there can and must be peace for everyone and everywhere in the world now and in the future.
Every year the board of the Old Hickory Fund organizes tours at the American cemetery in Margraten, where more than 8,000 American soldiers are buried, around Memorial Day (May / June).
In our board there are several volunteers who act as guides at the cemetery. They tell the children and their teachers very personal stories about the boys and girls who are buried in Margraten. The schools receive information in advance and the teachers give some dedicated classes, so that the students are prepared when they are shown around the American Cemetary. The Old Hickory Fund rents buses, that take the children from school to Margraten, and back, in shuttle service.
The children are usually very impressed, because at the cemetery they actually see what the consequences of war can be.
From 1994 onwards, about 500 pupils of the highest classes of the primary schools (11 and 12 year olds) come to Margraten each year to visit the cemetery.
Since we started our project many thousands of young people have participated. The results are very positive. We often hear that the children afterwards go to Margraten with their parents to visit the cemetery. The teachers are very enthusiastic and positive and come back every year.