Holland Thanks Canada…Again

Posted by on May 10, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone | 38 comments

This is a last minute post – one totally unplanned. All week long we have been seeing little bits and pieces on the news about the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Holland by the Canadian soldiers. I was just so impressed and touched by everything that was presented that I wanted to share it.

Today (Saturday) we watched the Canadian Veterans Parade in Appeldoorn, Holland and it was marvelous. The old veterans – one was 97 years old – were being transported in old military trucks and jeeps and they looked so proud. I really wanted to hug them and add my own thanks.

One thing that struck me as being extra special was that women veterans were also present. We think of the war as being won by men, but many women also saw military service, not in active front-line duty but by performing many important behind the scenes tasks. I thought it was terrific that their contribution was also acknowledged.

The parade route itself was packed with people waving the Canadian Flag. Young children, wearing orange for the Dutch Royal House of Orange, ran out to shake hands with the vets and to present them with flowers. Mothers where holding up the very young so they could see and touch.  Gorgeous young women were jumping on the vehicles to give the vets a hug and a kiss.

That brought to mind a story told by my oldest sister. The same thing happened when the Canadian soldiers entered Middelburg, the city where I was born. That day, in 1945, young women also hitched rides on the military vehicles, hugging and kissing the soldiers and whooping it up, celebrating their freedom. What a day that must have been.

As we were watching the parade, I heard the Canadian veterans say over and over how fantastic it was that the Dutch people remembered their contribution and how much they appreciated their ongoing gratitude and friendship. Many of them were overwhelmed and overcome with emotion, and frankly, so was I.

Appeldoorn, where the parade was held, is the twin city of Burlington, Ontario. For this special occasion the Burlington Teen Band was invited to participate in the parade. Can you imagine how those young people would have felt being caught up in all that emotion? I’m betting they won’t be forgetting the day very soon, if ever.

I was raised respecting the Canadian soldier and have always had great admiration for members of the military. The Dutch have always been grateful to them for their role in the liberation of Holland. This love affair appears to be mutual, as many of the veterans kept saying, “wonderful people, wonderful country”.

The Dutch don’t just talk about their affection and appreciation, they continue to show it in so many ways.

  • 2,338 Canadian soldiers of World War II were laid to rest at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery and Memorial. Since that time this cemetery has been beautifully maintained by school children. Every year the children place a small flag before each Canadian soldier’s grave. The reason for the childrens involvement is to ensure that they never forget and so the gratitude continues.
  • Twenty years ago, the children lit candles at the graves of the soldiers and allowed them to burn all night to pay silent tribute. This idea spread and commemorative candlelight ceremonies have become annual events.
  • Schools in Holland have added the Canadian National Anthem to their curriculum.
  • The Dutch government, in appreciation to Canada for providing safety and shelter for the Royal Family during the war, sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada after the war and has continued to send 20,000 bulbs annually. Thanks to that Canada now sponsors the largest Tulip Festival in the world.

Today as a Dutch-Canadian I am very proud of both my Countries. May our friendship last forever.

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

38 Comments

  1. Very moving post, Lenie. What a wonderful thing for the Dutch to remember the Canadians. Yes, may the friendship last forever!

    • Jacquie, we were so moved watching the celebrations – it is a wonderful, amazing thing that this friendship has lasted 70 years and shows every indication of lasting many more. I love the fact that Holland involves the children. I have been told stories about when Holland was occupied so fully understand the gratitude for their liberators.

  2. Thank you for sharing this Lenie. I was touched by the unity that took place at this celebration. We must never forget those that fought and died. Their legacy lives on.

    • Phoenicia, their legacy lives on indeed, through the school children who are told over and over again about the love and friendship between our two countries and the reason for that. Watching the celebrations really did bring out my patriotism for both my countries.

  3. Holland and Canada do indeed have a very special relationship and it is good to see that the mutual respect lives on.

    • Tim, this past week seeing the celebrations on TV just made me so proud to be both Dutch and Canadian. I hope that when the last veteran has passed on that the memorial celebrations will still continue.

  4. I have watched some of the anniversary celebrations on television and am surprised by how warmly the Canadian soldiers were welcomed after all these years. It make me feel proud to be Canadian.

    • Hi Donna, didn’t you find the celebrations moving? and like you, I was so proud to be Canadian and also of my Dutch heritage. What I really liked was the fact that they involve the children. I know we have our Remembrance Day celebrations but I wonder how much that really means to the school age child.

  5. What a touching post Lenie and all new information to me, but I must confess my knowledge of previous wars is sadly lacking. My father served in WWII under General Patton and simply refused to ever discuss any of his experiences. As a result all that I learned about the war was from school until I moved to Hawaii and had the opportunity to visit the Arizona Memorial. I am so glad to hear of the wonderful treatment the veterans received because I think our own vets don’t receive anywhere near the respect and support they deserve. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!

    • Marquita, I agree that we must do more to show our appreciation for our military, past and present. They do a tough job and continue to make. I shudder to think what our world would be like without their contribution.

  6. I especially like that the young children are involved in the annual candlelight ceremonies so that the appreciation will go on and on.

    • Beth, if right after the war people in Canada and the US had started the same kind of thing – having the school children maintain cenotaphs and war memorials – I think a greater appreciation for our military, past and present would be instilled in them forever.

  7. It was a nice gesture of the Dutch to thank Canada for saving them. Am sure they are pleased it wasn’t the Russians. Just look at what happened to the unfortunate half of Germany and Germans that became East Germany.

    • Catarina, what happened to Germany was shameful. World leaders making horrible decisions that negatively affected the lives of so many. If the Russians had liberated Holland I don’t imagine I would be here in Canada writing a Thank You post.

  8. Lovely post, promotes unity perfection, great that the Dutch and Canadians have such a fantastic relationship.

    • Husnaa, I have always been so proud of the friendship between Holland and Canada and also proud of the fact that I can claim both countries as my own.

  9. Lenie. I think it is wonderful that you are proud to be a Dutch-Canadian. Our heritage is what makes us special. I glad you wrote this post even though it was off the beaten path for you.

    • Arleen, you’re right about this not being my usual kind of post but when I saw how much the Canadian vets appreciated everything that was going on and how the friendship between the countries continues as strong as ever, well, I just had to write it. It actually was a quick post written on Saturday night for posting on LinkedIn on Sunday so pretty well straight from the heart.

  10. What a heart-warming story Lenie. It is so easy for history to just be forgotten. I’m sure it was so wonderful for these veterans to be told all these years later how much their sacrifice and hard work meant. I think it is especially wonderful that this appreciation is being handed down to the children. To them, this is ancient history, so it is wonderful to see how they are taught the value of the sacrifices those before them made.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Erica, I just got so caught up in the emotion just by watching TV that I needed to share. But just think, the children, who have been told the history over and over, were also present during these festivities and they were allowed to touch and hug the veterans to say thanks. So now they will have memories to go along with what they’ve heard. Must have been so powerful.

  11. Sounds like it must have been enormously touching. You deserve to be proud.

    • Ken, we don`t often have times to feel truly patriotic but this definitely was one of those times. I was proud.

  12. Thanks for sharing this celebration with us. Such activities definitely help cement a sense of pride into children especially. History can often feel so removed from the present when it’s just written words on a page.

    • Jeri, I think that is one thing that has always impressed me – that the children are involved. I can just see them, during history class, learning about WWII, then going to the cemetery to tend to the graves. That would make history more meaningful for any child, especially if the activities are supported by parents and grandparents.

  13. I love this post, Lenie. I never knew of the connection between the Dutch and Canadians. And you’re the perfect person to write about this piece of history. I love to hear that people are committed to remembering their history. Beautiful.

    • Meredith, having heard stories about the liberation and then seeing the way the Canadian vets were treated was really heartwarming. The Dutch are determined not to ever forget – I can imagine how the Vets must have felt being the `guests of honour`in the parade. It was just so wonderful to watch.

  14. This is wonderful. Being an American, I didn’t know the history between Holland and Canada. Thank you for you sharing. It’s nice to know that there are countries that can work together.

    • Sabrina, I don’t know if there are two other countries in the world who have had an ongoing friendship like Canada and Holland. It truly is unique and something to be proud off

  15. Lenie — such a beautiful story. I wasn’t aware of the Canadian-Dutch connection and it’s wonderful they they never forget what the Canadian military did to help liberate Holland. It’s a lot like the American Normandy Cemetery in France that contains 9,387 of America’s military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. I’ve never visited it but friends have and say it’s an extremely moving experience, as I’m sure the parade is that honors the Canadian soldiers who gave their lives for liberty.

    • Jeannette, I think it’s wonderful that countries in Europe – like you said France, and I know Holland – continue to honour the fallen soldiers. Amazing how many died over there but it was a war, that for those who lived through it, clearly defined evil. I suppose because I heard talk about it the whole time I was growing up, the sacrifice by these soldiers, yours and ours, has always been something to respect. When I saw the parade on TV, I found it very moving and kept wishing I was there in the crown. I can only imagine the emotion that was present.

  16. Hey Lenie
    Wow!!!! what a lovely post. you have provided a very informative article. I had a very little idea about the relationship between two countries

    Thank You for the inspiring post

  17. Wow! Thanks for sharing this historical moment.

    There is so much to learn. It is so honorable for the Dutch to thank the Canadians.I see now why they are great allies.

    This is how countries should relate with each other.

    Take Care Lenie

    • Hi Ikechie – wouldn’t it be wonderful if all countries respected each other the way Holland and Canada does. This world would be a better place for sure.

  18. Lenie, we must never forget either the horrors of WW II or the wonderful examples of caring and sacrifice, like those of Canadian soldiers in Holland. Thanks for your moving article.

    • Rin, I agree, we must never forget and I am so proud of Holland for setting an example there. Thanks for the comment.

  19. Thank you for sharing this Lenie. Very moving! What a wonderful thing for the Dutch to remember the Canadians. Yes, and may the friendship last forever!!

  20. My heart goes out to those countries, like the Netherlands, that had a land border with Germany during the 1933-1945 period. As an American, I wonder, “What would have happened if the U.S. had been one of those countries?” Hitler surely would have coveted America’s agricultural and coal resources; had he invaded a neighboring America in the spring of 1940, when the Wehrmacht was at the height of its power, Washington might well have fallen. Both Americans and Canadians should themselves be thankful that thousands of miles of ocean separated them from Europe back in the day.

    • Andy, that was a nightmarish situation and it would have been wonderful if we had learned from that so it would not repeated. Unfortunately, we now have the same nightmare happening in the Middle East where ISIS is terrorizing everyone. I often think of those people just living over the border from areas where they are in control. How is it possible that this type of evil is flourishing again? And you are absolutely right – Americans and Canadians must be thankful = during the WWII conflict but also again now. We take our freedom for granted.