No sooner did I write that two veterans would get the last word on the Remembrance Day poppies discussion, than a Facebook message arrived from my friend Walter Van Veen, whose teenage father spent the war hiding in a secret compartment in an Amsterdam flat.
A Jewish family shared the compartment. Facing starvation, they gave themselves up a few weeks before the end of the war—and were killed. Walter’s father held out and survived.
You know my take on this [the media firestorm over white poppies being handed out at the National War Memorial]. This is one fairly cynical narrow view based on how some people and agencies manipulate Remembrance Day.
War stinks and we all know it, so Remembrance Day is not to glorify war, but to remember those who stood and counted themselves in when they had to be.
There is no doubt that I would not be alive today except for Canadian soldiers. My mother continues to say, at 88, that the day the Canadian soldiers entered Amsterdam in 1945 was the best day in her life.
Why anyone would sail across the ocean, land on the beaches of Normandy in a hail of bullets, walk halfway across Europe in the heat and the cold to save a nation of people that they didn’t even know is beyond the imagination of most Dutch people.
So let’s remember the sacrifices of those young Canadians and thank them. We don’t have to like war to do that.”
Who can argue with that?