March 23, 2014: Commemoration at Bergen op Zoom
(Visit of Canadian Minister of Industry, Hon. Mr. James Moore)
Many leaders of important countries have been present in the Netherlands in March to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague. Something that has certainly not been unnoticed. Also, the Prime Minister, Minister of Industry and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada did attend in The Hague. In addition to this busy schedule, there was still time to commemorate fallen Canadian compatriots in the Netherlands. This happened in Bergen Op Zoom in presence of Minister James Moore, the Canadian Military Attaché Col. Janine Knackstedt, her husband and some representatives from the Embassy. From the municipality of Bergen Op Zoom among others were present the Deputy Mayor and local stakeholders. RCL Branch 005 was also invited to attend with a Colour Party and a small delegation.
The commemoration took place in the early morning (8:30AM) at the Canadian War Cemetery in Bergen Op Zoom. Because of all the traffic problems around The Hague, but also the full agenda of the guests it was decided to start at such early time. It meant that the alarm clock went off very early for many comrades on Sunday, March 23. The local harmony was present to enlighten this unique event.
Furthermore a Piper (Hans Dubbelaar Band or liberation) was present, who escorted a complete Colour Party, led by Sgt At Arms Martin Reelick, from the entrance of the cemetery to the Cross of Sacrifice. The Deputy Mayor opened the memorial service with a short speech in which he welcomed Minister Moore and mentioned the importance of Canadians for Bergen Op Zoom and the relationship with the cemetery. Then the Colour Party placed itself behind the Cross of Sacrifice and President Gerard Hendriks gave a speech in which he pointed out the role of Branch 005 specially to the commemorations in the Netherlands. He also emphasized the mission of RCL Branch 005 and the two busy commemorative years to come now, in which in 2015 liberators once will be invited the Netherlands to celebrate this last jubilee year.
Then, a wreath was laid by Minister James Moore. The Canadian National Anthem was played by the band and during the visiting of the graves, the Minister laid a poppy on the graves of fallen soldiers from British Columbia. (The Minister is of BC). During this walk music was played by Piper Hans Dubbelaar on his bagpipe. The Minister was very impressed and gave each member of the Colour Party at parting a firm hand in thanks for this impressive memorial. After the Minister had gone back the entire group was invited by Paul Versijp and his wife to drink coffee and eat traditional Brabant sausage rolls at the Canadalaan.
The entire Canadalaan in Bergen op Zoom, was again transformed into a Canadian liberation street. Everywhere there were the Canadian flags. And at the home of Paul Versijp a large party tent was placed. Fortunately, because during the memorial there was just a little sun, but during the coffee the rain came pouring down. The harmony came along with a serenade and it was a great atmosphere despite the rain and a good place to be.
At the end of this gathering the Mil. Attaché Col. Knackstedt surprised several employees who had participated in the organization of this memorial. She handed the Deputy Mayor and some representatives of the municipality of Bergen op Zoom the “Military Attaché Coin”. The participants of the Colour Party were handed these “Coin” as well. Especially the military among the readers will recognize and appreciate the gesture. This was the end of an impressive but also very entertaining morning.
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