Author: Laurens Van Aggelen
As the Dutch Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, we are a very active Association. Throughout the year our members attend numerous memorial services and other gatherings at which fallen Canadian soldiers are commemorated. In addition, where necessary, we provide support to veterans and descendants. That our efforts have not gone unnoticed appeared evident, when at the end of last April our Branch was honored during the visit of the Right Honorable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and his wife Sharon Johnston.
The Governor General travelled to the Netherlands for a very special reason. A day after his arrival he was to be a guest at the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander in Amsterdam. For this inauguration many dignitaries had been invited, as well as various members of Royal families coming from in and outside of Europe. On behalf of the British Royal family would be present; His Royal Highness Prince Charles accompanied by his wife Camilla, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall. David Johnston would attend in his function as highest ranking Canadian representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Upon arrival on April 29th, after having flown from Canada to the Netherlands, he and his wife went directly to the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador to the Netherlands. A warm welcome was there extended to him and his wife by the Canadian Ambassador, His Excellency James Lambert, and his wife Alexandra Echeverria-Lambert.
For many of us it was particularly special and a tremendous honor to have been invited to attend this reception on that sunny April afternoon. During the reception, which The Governor General had managed to organize, he wished to thank a number of people in the Netherlands for their commitment in honoring those who had made the highest sacrifice for our freedom. Furthermore, he also thanked them for the efforts made by those Dutch citizens who have helped intensify and cherish the ties between Canada and the Netherlands. Among the attendees present were the (Board) members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 005, as well as members from organizations such as ‘Thank You Canada and Allied Forces’, ‘Welcome Again Veterans’, Ministry of Defence, ‘The League of Brothers in Arms’, and the Royal British Legion. In his speech, David Johnston, revealed that he was very familiar with all efforts made by these various organizations and individuals who ensure that future Dutch generations will never forget the many Canadians who fought for our freedom, paid the highest price to obtain that.
After the speeches made by the Governor General, The Canadian Ambassador and Mr. Dr. Beelaerts van Blokland as Chairman of the National Committee ‘Thank you Canada and Allied Forces’, everyone present was bestowed the honor of making the acquaintance of David Johnston during a brief personal interview. This was followed by an informal get-together. The mutual links between the various organizations and individuals, in a pleasant atmosphere, were strengthened and cherished.
As members of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 005, we look back on an exceptionally pleasant afternoon that was of great importance to us all. This honorable tap on the shoulder provides an additional incentive to keep up our wonderful work.