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Tales of Animals in War - 2020 Edition

Liberation of the Netherlands

“Hey everyone! Here I am with my Remembrance Clubhouse friends in the country of the Netherlands all the way over in Europe. We are at the Holten Canadian War Cemetery for their annual Christmas Eve candlelight ceremony,” woofed Gandy the dog. “We are so proud to be here. Did you know that candlelight ceremonies are a special way that the Dutch people show their thanks to the Canadian troops who liberated them from German occupation during the Second World War?”

“Yes, it’s true!” neighed Bonfire Jr. the horse. “For many years, Dutch school children have come to this war cemetery on the evening of December 24th to place candles on the graves of the Canadian soldiers who are buried here. Isn’t that an amazing tribute? Tonight, the flames of more than 1,350 remembrance candles will softly glow throughout the cemetery. We feel so honoured to be here to see it.”

“It was so special to see all those young students placing candles on the graves. It made my feathers ruffle!” squawked Squeaker the pigeon. “It’s so nice that they are looking after our Canadian soldiers who are buried in their country.”

“All of us in the Remembrance Clubhouse have had the chance to meet Canadian Veterans of the Second World War over the years. Some of these brave men and women are more than 95 years old now! Unfortunately, the Canadian soldiers buried at Holten never had the opportunity to grow old. They died during the Liberation of the Netherlands in 1944-1945 and are buried here,” Win the bear growled sadly. “We remember the sacrifice made by all those who served.”

“The Dutch keep this special candlelight tribute tradition because the people in the Netherlands want to thank our Canadian soldiers for their freedom,” purred Simone the cat. “You might wonder what freedom means? It’s like being able to choose who your friends are, where you can go, what books you can read or the movies you watch. People in the Netherlands during the war had many restrictions on what they could do. Their freedom was taken away and many people even lost their lives. Fortunately, 75 years ago, Canadians came to help their country.”

“It’s important to remember that many Canadians fought and died for freedom and to thank them. Candlelight tributes like this are one way to express our gratitude!” trumpeted Ellie the elephant. “There are also many other ways to remember and we have taken part in some of them ourselves over the years. We have visited many war cemeteries, attended colourful tulip festivals and watched sunrise ceremonies. We have even participated in special running and walking activities to honour those who served. We can’t wait to tell you more about our remembrance experiences!”


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