Ceremonies in Holten and Beekbergen

Trip Start Apr 27, 2010
Trip End May 08, 2010

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Flag of Netherlands  , Gelderland,
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Today, May 4th, is the day each year the Dutch conduct their solemn ceremonies of remembrance for those that fought and lost their lives during the liberation of the Netherlands. This year, thousands of Canadian students joined them at various ceremonies of remembrance across the nation.  The weather cooperated much more today, though it was still cool and windy.  All the students wore their white shirts & black pants today.  Our group was involved in several ceremonies today, each very different but all quite moving.

In the morning, our group made their way to Holten Canadian War Cemetery, the second largest Canadian cemetery in the area.  The ceremony here, beginning at 11am, was attended by many dignitaries, veterans, students and Dutch citizens – several thousand people in all.  Perhaps the most touching moment of the ceremony was the "poppy drop" of thousands of poppies during the ceremony from a helicopter overhead.  The students were able to meet many more veterans and visit the gravesite of their “adopted” soldier if they had one assigned to them.

In the early afternoon, the students went into the local town of Apeldoorn to visit Het Loo Palace, the former palace of the Dutch royal family.  Students toured the beautiful gardens and the inside rooms of this impressive palace for several hours before gathering on the lawn in the front for a special barbecue dinner.  Put on by the town of Apeldoorn, the students were treated to sausages and hamburgers, and these “familiar” dinner items were indeed a welcome treat. 

After the barbecue, Anderson's students made their way into the local town of Beekbergen as guests for a very special event.  The townspeople invited Canadian students to attend their ceremony of remembrance this evening, and our group was one of two busses selected for this very special honour.  It was a very stark contrast to the massive national events that will be happening soon.  This evening’s ceremony began in the small local church, attended by a small number of local townsfolk with our students.  After the church service, the students and villagers took a “silent walk” for 15 minutes to a local park, where much the rest of the village’s population was waiting to continue the ceremony.  Our students watched the locals and their schoolchildren lay wreaths and engage in a moving remembrance ceremony before being hosted by the town for a “tea and a gift” on behalf of the town.  In the end, this was a very authentic, moving local service that the students felt privileged to be a part of.  Following this, we returned to the hotel for the evening.

A big day tomorrow – the Liberation Day parade!  It will be a very different tone, and the students are certainly looking forward to tomorrow’s events.  I can’t wait to post about it!
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