It is impossible to hold a ceremony in Ottawa to commemorate the suffering of the Dutch people under Nazi occupation without also paying homage to the sacrifice of the Canadian soldiers who died helping to liberate the Netherlands, the Dutch ambassador said yesterday.
“We find it very important to keep on commemorating that and also celebrating that,” said Dutch Ambassador Wim Geerts, who laid a wreath in honour of fallen Canadian soldiers at the Beechwood National Cemetery yesterday afternoon.
For 65 years, the Dutch people have marked their Remembrance Day, May 4, with two minutes of silence at 8 p.m. Members of the local Dutch community gathered at the Beechwood National Cemetery for a ceremony at 2 p.m., which is 8 p.m. in the Netherlands.
“So many Canadians are buried on Dutch soil,” said Netherlands Defence Attaché Lt.-Col. Henri Schevers. “By doing what we did here today, we are also paying tribute to the all Canadian fallen heroes. Because it is the 65th anniversary of our liberation, it is even more appropriate to have a Remembrance Day ceremony in Canada.”
The strong ties that form the relationship with the Netherlands and Canada can be traced back to the Second World War, when the Dutch royal family lived in Ottawa in exile during the Nazi Occupation, said Geerts.
Princess Margriet of the Netherlands was born in Ottawa. Her birthday, Jan. 19, 1943, was the only time in Canadian history that a foreign flag flew from the Peace Tower.
To show their gratitude to the city, the royal family donated tulips to the city.
When Princess Margriet visits Ottawa later this month, she will be visiting with Second World War veterans at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre. Geerts said that was one of the top priorities of her visit.
“It’s something that is very heartfelt and very much a part of who she is,” he said.