legion to honour 68th anniversary of Liberation Day
By Craig Baird of The Gull Lake Advance
While you drive through Gull Lake on May 5, don’t be surprised if you see something happening at the Gull Lake Cenotaph. It was on that day, 68 years ago, that the Netherlands were officially liberated to end the occupation of Nazi Germany.
The Netherlands were primarily liberated by Canadian troops, with assistance from the French, Americans and Polish.
On that day in 1945, General Charles Foulkes of Canada and Commander-in-Chief Johannes Blaskowitz of Germany, signed an agreement to free the Netherlands.
“On May 5, it is the day that they signed the cease fire in Holland. I have three veterans in my group who were there. We are going to commemorate that signing and at the same time pay tribute to our remaining veterans,” Bruce Freestone, president of the Gull Lake Legion, said. “I have four veterans that served in the Second World War, all close to 90-years-old and I intend to do this every year.”
This will mark the first year for the ceremony in Gull Lake, and it is possibly one of the only ceremonies in Canada to mark the anniversary.
In the Netherlands, it was celebrated every five years until 1990 when it became a national holiday that is commemorated each year. On May 5 of each year, festivals are held throughout the Netherlands, with parades of veterans and a large musical festival that draws 100,000 people.
The ceremony in Gull Lake will be very similar to Remembrance Day.
“I am going to do the Act of Remembrance, lower the flag and play the trumpet like on Remembrance Day,” Freestone said. “There may be some speeches. After, we will go to the Legion Hall for coffee and sandwiches.”
The connections to the Liberation of Holland is strong in Gull Lake. One individual was involved in bringing out two Germans who were to take part in the signing, while another knew about the Liberation before the rest of the world.
“One was in signals, he knew the night before that it was going to be all over the next day,” Freestone said. “We have ties that are pretty close to all this.”
The remembrance of the Liberation of Netherlands will be held at the Gull Lake Cenotaph on May 5 at 2 p.m.