Blog Archive

May 5, 2013

2013 ~ Liberation Day

Yesterday was Remembrance Day which we spend with friends conquering countries by risking the lives of plastic soldiers with every flung dice without thinking about it. (not very appropriate I realised this morning)

This evening I read the speech General van Uhm gave on 'Dam Square' where we remember our World War II victims.

His speech made a deep impression on me and I've made an attempt to translate it for you.

In World War II, my father fought on the riverbanks of the Waal.
In that war, where people killed people, my father saw darkness.

People were arrested. Prosecuted. Because they were not "we", but were "them".
People were killed. Eradicated.
Solely because of who they were.

People stood up and fought the inhumanity.
They had to pay for their courage with their lives.
We remember them all with the deepest respect.

From a young age I knew their history.
Through the stories of my father.
Through the stories of the allies who fought for us, other people in another country.
It made a deep impression.

At age 16 I looked around.
The Second World War was over.

But for many survivors the war went on.
Many still feel the darkness every single day.

I realized: the struggle for justice is never over.
The struggle for freedom begins every day.
In yourself.
And in society.

I asked myself:
Peter, millions of people have been deprived of a choice.
You do have a choice.
What will you do with your life?
What will you do to make the world better?

I decided to serve.
Because I believe there is a solution in serving.

He who serves does not think solely in terms of 'I'
He who serves does not think only in terms of 'them'
He should also be thinking; 'we'.

Since the victory over injustice begins there.
Because freedom, equality and justice, a better world, we build together.

My son decided to serve too.
I was so proud.
He was killed.
For other people.
In another country.
Five years and sixteen days ago.

Those were dark days.
What good are ideals, what good is a better world tomorrow, if you lose your son today?
These are the questions that I asked myself too.

Two weeks after his death I stood on 'the Dam' Square.
It was May 4th, 2008.
A tough, confrontational moment.
But also a conscious choice.

This monument, dedicated to the memory of all Dutch war victims, but also the solidarity on 'the Dam' Square and in the country, it helped me. May 4th helped me keep course in those dark days when serving hurt most.

I hope that May 4th helps us all of us hold course.
Not only for today.
But also for the 364 days to come.

I hope the memory and togetherness of 4 May helps us in times of 'I', to find  the 'us' again.
For not from the 'I' and 'them', but from the "we" the good things are created. History has taught us that.

We should continue to commemorate that.
We must continue to make an agreement on that.
With ourselves. And with each other.

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