A crowd estimated at slightly over 3,000 people came out to greet Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and her husband at Liberation Memorial Park in Goderich, to celebrate a special bond of friendship between our countries.
Princess Margriet marked to occasion by unveiling a plaque at the park that replicates a similar one marking the spot at Hotel Wereld, Wageningen, the Netherlands where German forces unconditionally surrendered to the First Canadian Army May 5, 1945. In that struggle, 7,600 Canadians were killed. Twenty of those casualties were residents of Huron County. Each of the ‘Huron County Twenty” was named in a heraldic scroll of remembrance signed by the Princess and her husband, later in the day.
Liberation Memorial Park was decked out with vintage World War Two Canadian Army vehicles that included a working Sherman Tank, a self-propelled artillery vehicle, a troop carrier, and various restored soft skin vehicles. The display was accented with a smattering of military re-enactors. A parade of OPP and legion colour parties, air cadets, were organized to pass the stage that included local dignitaries and Goderich’s very own veteran, Bill Anderson, age 94. Bill served in the 5th Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment during the liberation of the Netherlands campaign.. In her remarks, Princess Margriet expressed thanks to Canada, and also sounded a warning that we need to remain vigilant these days to preserve our freedoms.
Princess Margriet left the park to attend a Liberation of the Netherlands concert at Trinity C.R. Church in Goderich, attended by a crowd of 500 people, including veterans and family members of the “Huron County 20.” The concert was a world class event, performed by the Royal Regiment of Canada, and pipers of the 48th Highlanders. Both units served with the First Canadian Army in Europe. A scroll of remembrance was signed in the presence of veterans and family guests which will later be put on public display.
The day’s events were organized by the Dutch-Canadians Remember as One committee, supported by local businesses and volunteers. Various Huron County municipal government’s also came alongside with encouragement and financial support. The committee addressed the concert crowd to let them know that their goal was to keep alive the continued gratitude of the Dutch community here at home, and to educate the general public on Canada’s wartime achievement. Remembering becomes more difficult as first hand experience becomes more difficult. The Dutch-Canadians Remember as One committee announced it wishes to capture Canada’s story during this era by reaching out to veterans, and their families in Huron County to record their experiences in an expanded website. The vision is to allow our present generation to connect with the names etched on our Huron County cenotaphs to their stories narrated on a dynamic, world class website. Modern technology can enable us to truly remember. “We shall never forget”.