Dutch 16-year-old honored for care of U.S. soldiers’ graves

This is one of those stories that’ll simply warm your heart. I heard about it on CNN this morning, and while looking for more info on the internet, found that the one web site that has the story seems to be down. The story was written by Marianne Hale of The News Enterprise in Shelbyville, KY. I suspect their web site is simply getting hammered, and unfortunately at this moment, the world can’t see the story.

I’m not going to say anything more about the story, except to show you the text and let you see for yourself how cool it is. I was able to grab the text from Google’s cache, I hope they don’t mind. I just want to make sure people can see it. Sebastian Vonk, a Dutch 16-year-old, is now also an American hero.

Dutch 16-year-old honored for care of U.S. soldiers’ graves

FORT KNOX — Sebastiaan Vonk does not know where he’s going to put the awards he received in Kentucky. He has to figure out how to get them back to his home in Holland first.

U.S. Army officials recognized the 16-year-old Vonk on Thursday at the Patton Museum for his care of U.S. soldiers’ graves in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Vonk adopts graves of World War II veterans. Grave adoption includes visiting soldiers’ graves a few times each year and sometimes bringing them flowers, Vonk said.

Among the mementos he’ll take home are an American flag, certificates of recognition and proof that he is now a Kentucky Colonel.

Vonk thinks he might need more luggage to get it all back to Holland.

Vonk said he’s been interested in wars for several years. He learned about adopting World War II veterans’ graves on the Internet and decided he wanted to honor soldiers who fought for Europe’s freedom.

World War II veterans attended Vonk’s recognition event along with family members of World War II veteran Charles Brinkley, whose grave Vonk cares for.

Brinkley’s stepson, a Kentuckian, first contacted Vonk about taking care of Brinkley’s grave.

Vonk said he didn’t realize how much his work meant to the family until he met them in person.

One of Brinkley’s daughters, Faye Brinkley-McManus, said her family thought Sebastiaan was an adult. Through e-mail, they learned he was 16.

McManus said she was even more impressed with Vonk when they met face-to-face.
“It was an awesome moment,” she said.

Vonk said the recognition he’s received was a surprise.

“It’s strange,” he said. “You don’t expect it.”

Vonk said he thinks someone has to do something very special to be honored.

He said it seems he must be special because of all the recognition he recently received.

Marianne Hale can be reached at (270) 505-1740.

Here are a couple of links:

What a wonderful world!

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