A ceremony to mark the end of the Second World War, the liberation of the Netherlands from German occupation and the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers drew an estimated 50 people to the White Rock cenotaph last week.
Jerry DeWit, an organizer with the Netherlands Association ‘Je Maintiendrai’ who MCed the service, said the sacrifices made “ought to be remembered.”
“I feel that any immigrant from Holland or Belgium or France – all those countries occupied by the Germans that were liberated by the Allied forces… are to be thankful,” DeWit said.
DeWit was 15 and too young to serve at the time, but remembers celebrating the war’s end in his hometown of Oudewater.
People were “elated and dancing around,” he said. “Singing patriotic songs again that you were not allowed to do.”
Previous commemorative services have been held in Vancouver, but a dwindling number of attendees led staff of the Netherlands Consulate to deem the expense could no longer be justified, DeWit said.
The May 4 service in White Rock included presentations by Mayor Catherine Ferguson and Royal Canadian Legion B.C. & Yukon Command vice-president Kathy Ensor. Netherlands Consul General Johanne Vervloed was also in attendance, as was one veteran who was part of the liberation of Holland.
DeWit hopes he can rally more veterans for next year’s service. He is not sure yet where it will be held, but plans to approach “every legion in town” to help get the word out.