Opinion - Special Remembrance, Netherlands May 5, 1945 - InsideHalton.com

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Opinion - Special Remembrance, Netherlands May 5, 1945 InsideHalton.com


Dear Editor,

May 5th, 1945, seventy five years ago, was a very special day in the Netherlands, as it marked the end of the occupation of that country by Nazi Germany. My Dutch family was living in the Netherlands at that time when Canadian soldiers and their allies liberated the country from five years of occupation and oppression by Nazi soldiers. My parents, two older sisters and my brother stood on the front steps of our home as they cheered the Canadian soldiers marching into our home town, Hoogeveen, in the Province Drenthe. My mother was holding me in her arms as I was a toddler and I do not remember this particular day since I was so young but my parents never let us forget the significance of that special day.

Even though it's 75 years ago, as May 5th approaches, I am reminded of the debt of gratitude owed to our Canadian soldiers and the Canadian government which also gave refuge to the Dutch Queen Juliana and her family for the duration of the War. My parents immigrated to Canada in 1952 and while our families live in Canada now, as my parents before me, I too relate to my children and grandchildren the history of May 5th and the gifts of the tulip bulbs as a symbolic remembrance of that day.

More than 7,600 Canadian soldiers gave their lives in the Netherlands fighting for the very freedom we so often take for granted. In recognition of the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers, the Dutch government declared May 5th, a National Holiday and to this day, all over the Netherlands, there are gatherings including parades of veterans and music festivals so that the horrors WW2 will never be forgotten or repeated. In years past, in May, many Canadian veterans of WW2 War have been invited to return to The Netherlands to be honored and decorated, as the Dutch continue to have a great affection and esteem for their Canadian "liberators".

Each year since 1945, as a gesture of gratitude and remembrance, the Dutch Royal family sends ten thousand tulip bulbs to Canada which are planted in Ottawa in front of the Parliament buildings. Last fall, to commemorate this special 75th Anniversary, the Royal family sent 100 thousand bulbs to be distributed to the Provinces and also to a number of schools where students ceremoniously planted the bulbs.

Last fall, my young grandson, Robert, his grandfather and I also planted 75 tulip bulbs in a special spot in our front lawn as a small token of remembrance of this joyful day. These particular bulbs we planted were distributed and sold by the Canadian Legion.(photos attached) In time, when Robert is older, he, his younger brother and cousins too will learn and realize the profound significance of the role that this wonderful flower, the tulip, has played through out the years by reminding us of our parents and great grandparents and the cost.... of freedom.

This spring, tulips will be blooming all over Canada, a colorful symbol of hope and reminder of that special day, May 5th, 1945 in the Netherlands. We will not forget. Thank you Canada.

Marianne (Van Setten) Hawthorne


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