This blog has been a long time coming. Each time however I have difficulties finding the words. So I will just start at the beginning.
ANZAC Day has come and gone on Friday, 25 April. This seems to be Australia’s biggest and most important celebration.
The Australia & New Zealand Army Corps is acknowledged and celebrated. Veterans and new recruits alike march the streets, men and women with many a distinction pinned to their chests, but also some with none. Men of over 80 are pushed in their wheelchairs by a proud family member. Friends of the 20-year-old bound to leave for whatever is in store for him/her rush to find a place among the crowds to show their friend they care.
Every 4 and 5 May, something similar happens in the Netherlands. Firstly, we remember all those who passed away during initially just WWII, and now also other missions, both peacekeeping and war. On 5 May, we celebrate the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany back in 1945, as well as freedom, democracy and human rights.
Truth be told, I have never attended any of the happenings on those dates back home. So I can’t be one hundred percent sure about what it is like. I do feel that the fact that I have never even considered attending them speaks for itself.
The Dutch don’t take pride in their armed forces. I would almost go so far as to say we think of them as a nuisance. My brother was a soldier, and people would scold at him for drinking “their tax money” when he ordered a beer in the pub.
I have attended ANZAC Day and I feel the weight of the pride, the love, the respect for the soldiers in the air on that day.
I don’t think we can ever go without armies. We need them not so much anymore to literally defend our territory, but to defend our freedom. If Russia continues annexing territories, we need a group of trained soldiers to go and stop them. If terrorists threaten to murder entire populations, we need a group of trained soldiers to make sure they don’t make their way to our country and do the same. If a country wants honest elections and is not given them, we need a group of trained soldiers to go there and make it happen. If tsunamis wash away everything there once was, if someone leaves a bomb on a train station, if women are stoned to death, if families are broken up because a dictator decides to move the border, we need people who know what they are doing, who are willing to fight for freedom, who will protect those of us who can’t or won’t be soldiers.
Regardless of the reason, soldiers become soldiers because they think it is the right way to go about protecting what they love and who they love, what they know and who they know. We should thank them for the sacrifices they make.
So thank you – especially to my brother who has taught me so much over the past 18 months, and who would in a heartbeat give up all he has to protect us all.
Where were you last ANZAC Day or 4 and 5 May?
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While researching for this blog I discovered the Netherlands actually have a Veteranendag (Veterans’ Day) every last Saturday of June.