Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has paid tribute at a Memorial Day ceremony to U.S. troops who fought and died liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation in World War II.

Thousands of people sat under blue skies and wispy white clouds for Sunday's ceremony at the American cemetery in Margraten that covers 65.5 acres and contains 8,301 headstones.

The cemetery is on land close to the Dutch border with Germany that was liberated from Nazi occupation on Sept. 13, 1944 by the U.S. 30th Infantry Division. A day later, nearby Maastricht became the first Dutch city liberated.

Rutte said the people of the Netherlands pay tribute to their liberators "for enabling us to stand here today in freedom, and we bow our heads in memory of the fallen."