In May, 2010 I had the honour of accompanying my son, Bryan, and his school on a trip to the Netherlands to be part of the celebrations for the 65th anniversary of VE Day (the end of WWII). It was one of the most intense and humbling experiences of my life!! We spent a few days in England touring war museums and then travelled by overnight ferry to the Netherlands where over 2,500 Canadian students visited the National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek and took part in silent marches to the Canadian War Cemeteries for the National Day of Remembrance on May 4th and the largest Liberation Day parade in Holland in Wageningen on May 5th. During these events it was impossible not to feel the love and respect of the Dutch people as they came out of their homes to pay their respects. They are still so thankful for what Canadian soldiers did for their country. The parade was amazing, and we clapped and cheered every time a group of vets went by. I found myself getting extremely emotional as I watched these very elderly men marching along or being pushed in wheelchairs. It was a long parade and many of them walked the entire way! I can’t even put into words how it made me feel, but I knew that I was part of something huge, and I will never forget it for as long as I live.
This picture was taken before the Liberation Day Parade in Wageningen. The parade wasn’t until mid-afternoon, but the entire day was full of celebrations. There were soldiers, veterans, and pipe bands there from all over the world to talk to, and there were military vehicles and displays and demonstrations to explore and watch. Many people were in period costume as well which added to the effect. We even received self-heating soldier’s rations for lunch.
When I saw this little Dutch boy sitting on this old military truck, I couldn’t resist taking a picture (or 2 or 3). He was just so cute, and it almost looks like he is sitting there contemplating the past and what his country went through during WWII. It was nice to see so many children there taking part, so that hopefully the memories will live on!