War veterans march for one last time

9th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — A Canadian war veteran in a wheelchair laughed as he was kissed by two women spectators, but later found it difficult to hide his tears at the national veterans parade on Sunday.

9 May 2005

AMSTERDAM — A Canadian war veteran in a wheelchair laughed as he was kissed by two women spectators, but later found it difficult to hide his tears at the national veterans parade on Sunday.

He was one of 1,700 Canadian veterans commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in the traditional march-past in the central Dutch city of Apeldoorn on Sunday. It was the last time the five-yearly march is to be held.

The march took the participants by Paleis Het Loo as they travelled in the direction of the city centre. Apeldoorn, located in the Veluwe region of the Netherlands, was liberated 60 years ago by Canadian troops.

A large number of war veterans rode in some 350 old army vehicles during the march, which was opened with a fly-past of historic planes.

As veterans shook hands with the public they received flowers from children and here and there some of them were spontaneously kissed.

Arthur Haley, 90, of Alberta, walked the march unassisted and waved exuberantly to the public. "We have had a fantastic week in the Netherlands. Probably the last time, so I am really enjoying it."

The 76-year-old Bert Sealig — who also marched in 1995 — walked as a real showman, stirring up the crowd. "A pity about the bad weather, but we are used to that in Canada," he said.

Despite the rain, some 100,000 people turned out to watch the parade. Princess Margriet and her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven took the march salute on behalf of the Dutch royal family.

The Canadian prime minister, Paul Martin, was initially expected to attend the march, but decided to stay home, much to the annoyance of some veterans. His place was taken by the Canadian Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson.

Sunday's parade was the last veterans parade to be held, one of the officials from the liberation foundation Stichting Bevrijding 45 said.

"The youngest veteran is now 76 and the oldest is 96. In five years time, most veterans will really be too old to come to the Netherlands again. Therefore, our foundation will disband this year," the official said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered at a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument to Queen Wilhelmina in The Hague and a march of Dutch veterans with the Prinses Irene Brigade on Sunday.

Princess Irene took the salute from the veterans, whose brigade was formed in the war years in Britain. The brigade landed in Europe in the wake of the Normandy invasion and entered The Hague exactly 60 years ago on Sunday.

Spectators, ranging from city residents who could still remember the liberation through to toddlers, loudly applauded the veterans, who were wearing their blue and orange 'invasion cord' as tradition dictates.

Two toddlers held a sign that read: "We're proud, grandpa Burt'.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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