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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Talking Those Darn Canucks Eh

    So many vets turned up, the beer ran out

    White grave markers set the tone for eloquent, respectful and grateful ceremony of remembrance

    Katherine Dedyna Times Colonist; with files from CanWest News Service. May 4, 2005

    GROESBEEK, The Netherlands -- They ran out of Heineken.

    So many Second World War veterans were willing and able to make it to 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands Tuesday at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery that the reception ran out of beer.

    Soon the wine was gone too, although both flowed freely for a while in huge tents festooned with Canadian flags.

    A total of 1,500 veterans showed up, not as many as the number of soldiers and airmen who are buried here -- 2,338. The remembrance ceremony also honoured another 1,100 soldiers who were killed liberating the Netherlands, but whose remains were never found.

    I'm here with my father, John Dedyna, of Kitchener, Ont., who's pretty sure one of the graves is that of a soldier who shared a slit trench with him in February 1945: C. Thurston of the Lincoln and Welland regiment.

    Until today, he didn't know that soldier had died; my dad received only a minor injury that day.

    The remembrance ceremony attracted 8,000 people, including the Canadian veterans. Officials were surprised -- they had planned for only 6,000.

    Queen Beatrix showed up, along with her sister Princess Margriet. All of the speakers -- Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson, Senator Art Eggleton -- sent at the last minute to represent the Canadian government -- the mayor of Groesbeek, the representatives of youth, were eloquent, respectful and grateful.

    Clarkson said the friendship between Canada and the Netherlands "is a source of joy and wonder for Canadians.

    "With the Dutch people we share blood and we share remembrance. As a family, we stood together against tyranny. As a family, we knew and felt each other's sacrifices. As a family we have savoured together all the lasting joys of liberation."

    But nothing the speaker could say resonated as much as the white grave markers, row on row.

    I could read the names of the soldiers without tearing up. I could read the dates of their deaths, but I could not read the chiselled messages from families without the tears spilling over.

    "Heavenly Star, Shine on the Grave, Of One We all Loved, But Could Not Save."

    Or, "Into the Mosaic of Victory, this Precious Gem was Set. Well Done, My Good Young Gallant Son." Try that with pipes playing A Scottish Soldier in the background.

    As the dignitaries spoke, a little Dutch girl, perhaps five years old, with long, blond hair in braids jumped back and forth before the tidy rows. Occasionally, she gripped a tombstone for support. I doubt many vets thought it was "inappropriate" -- to see happy, plump, pink-cheeked Dutch children was one of the reasons they had come here in the first place.

    When the Canadians arrived, many Dutch children were starving. Ed Miller, 84, of Barrie, Ont., recalled that when the soldiers finished eating, the desperate Dutch nearby would make a grab for the leftovers.

    "The garbage tin was cleaner on the outside than on the inside," said Miller, who has come back to Holland every five years since the war but thinks this will be his last trip. He's battling cancer now.

    Still going strong is Smokey Smith, 91, the only surviving Victoria Cross winner in Canada. Coming to see him was Trevor Guthrie, 28, of Vancouver, a member of the rock group Soul Decision.

    "I love this group," said Guthrie.

    "Who knows how the world would have turned out is they hadn't done what they did?"

    His friend, Jetse Salverda, 34, from a town near Utrecht, says something that flies hard in the face of everything we always hear about the depth of Dutch gratitude to these old men.

    Young people, he says, have raised the issue of saying goodbye to Liberation Day. "They don't think it's so important anymore.

    "For the young generation, it's more and more difficult to understand what happened."

    My brother Chris, also over for the last hurrah, went out to a pub in Nijverdal, met a young man who wondered if he was here for "The vegetarian/no veteran celebrations" and then said. "Thanks for liberating our country."

    Chris responded, "You can thank my dad and the rest of the guys back at the hotel."

    © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005


    Having been to Holland and in particular the Island of Texel and Amsterdam and experienced the hospitality of the Hollandisch - I well understand. They are a great bunch of people.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

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  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    I'm glad to see that the vets are still getting the attention and recognition they deserve.

    And as for the Beer, what a travesty. They should have known the average Canadian can drink twice the world average, but whoda thunk the Dutch were such alkies too?
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    but whoda thunk the Dutch were such alkies too?


    Hehehehee I know they are! And a great, fun bunch of people too. When a buddy and I travelled through, we were welcomed everywhere and were given a "run for our money" on the... oh wait, once they found out we were from Lord Strathcona's Horse(Royal Canadians) our money was "no good" anymore. In all my travels around the world their hospitality is rivaled by none so far.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  4. #4
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    I am glad to hear that Queen Beatrix made an appearance. Even though I don't know the Queen personally I feel connected because she once dated my Father. Dad was already married to my Mom and she was very pleased with the date.

    My Dad was undergoing training with the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1943, I believe in Petawawa, Ont. After completing training for the day, he and another recruit were getting ready to join their fellow troups for a night on the town. They were the only 2 left in barracks when the CO walked in looking for 2 volunteers. Since they were the only 2 left volunteering was not an option. They were told to put on number ones and report to the CO.

    To make a long story short their duty was that they were to escort the 2 Dutch Princesses(who were living in Canada at the time) to a formal dinner. Although the Princesses were quite a bit younger the Dad, he nonetheless had a very enjoyable evening and a lifelong memory. Dad does not bring it up often but Mom occasionally mentions his extramarital affair.

    The liaison did not any detrimental effect on the marraige it would seem as we have recently celebrated Mom and Dads 62nd Anniversary.

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