'Enemies must be confronted,' Harper tells vets
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, May 4, 2015 5:57AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 4, 2015 1:05PM EDT
An official Canadian delegation is in the Netherlands this week to attend a series of ceremonies and events honouring the sacrifices Canadian soldiers made when they liberated the Dutch from Nazi occupation 70 years ago.
On Monday, the delegation of veterans attended a ceremony at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, the Netherlands. The cemetery is the final resting place for 1,393 Commonwealth soldiers who died during the liberation campaign.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined the veterans for the morning and delivered a speech commemorating the bravery of Canadian soldiers.
"The heroes who liberated the Netherlands, like the men and women who serve our country today understood that when there arises a great evil, a threat to all the things that define our existence as a free and just people, such enemies must be confronted," he said.
In total, more than 7,600 Canadians lost their lives in the Netherlands between the fall of 1944 and May 5, 1945, when the Germans surrendered.
In honour of those Canadians, the veterans delegation is participating in 70th anniversary events throughout the week. In addition to the ceremony Monday, the Government of Canada hosted a ceremony of remembrance at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetary on Sunday, a liberation parade is planned for Tuesday, and a national street parade and liberation festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 9.
"Seventy years ago, Canadian soldiers made history by fighting canal by canal, house by house to free the Netherlands from Nazi domination and restore that nation's sovereignty. Now on this milestone anniversary, our Canadian Armed Forces are proud to join the Dutch people and veterans of this campaign in remembrance of 7,600 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice," National Defence Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement.
While Canadian soldiers fought overseas in the Second World War, Canada also provided a safe haven for Holland’s exiled royal family. As a thank-you gift, the Netherlands sends more than a million tulips to Ottawa every year.
Elsewhere in Canada, ceremonies took place this weekend to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic.
The battle saw Royal Canadian Navy fight German U-boats, warships, and the Luftwaffe. It was Canada’s longest military engagement during the Second World War, lasting from 1939 to 1945. In that time, 4,600 Canadians lost their lives at sea.
To remember the battle, veterans took part in a commemorative wreath-laying ceremony at the Naval monument at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax on Sunday, and the ashes of two dozen veterans were released into the ocean from aboard the HMCS Halifax.
"I thought it was very touching," Lois Dunlop, 91, widow of Lt.-Cmdr Daniel Turbull Dunlop, told CTV Atlantic.
"I was very delighted I was able to come and bring my family," she added.