Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada and in other Commonwealth nations. On this day, we commemorate the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty. It’s an important day for all of us, as we should never forget those who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom.
From research I did for my historical Music Box series, I knew about the role of Canadian forces in liberating the Netherlands from Germany’s brutal occupation during the Second World War. I knew that the Dutch people are today still immensely grateful for the sacrifice of over 7,600 Canadian servicemen who lost their lives during the liberation. But I was deeply touched the other day to hear a story on the radio about the continuing commitment by the Dutch to honour that memory.
Canada’s war dead in the Netherlands are buried mainly in seven Commonwealth cemeteries. To this day, the grounds are well kept, the graves are decorated, and remembrances continue. In fact, each Dutch schoolchild is assigned a war grave to tend and must learn the name and background of the service member buried there. There is also a special memorial in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery that commemorates soldiers and airmen who are missing and presumed dead.
At Christmastime, citizens of the Netherlands visit these cemeteries to pay their respects. At the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, children place a candle on each grave as a sign of remembrance on Christmas Eve. A commemorative ceremony is also held every May 4th.
On this solemn day, I find it uplifting to know that the young men lost in battle have not been forgotten. How amazing it is that three generations later, their individual names are still remembered and honoured in the country where they were laid to rest, far from home. Most important, Dutch children will grow up understanding the true cost of war – a lesson none of us should forget.
Susan R. Hughes is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and historical romance. Visit susanrhughes.weebly.com.