“If there’s one thing that shouldn’t be forgotten, it’s the act of forgiveness.”
That’s from former Prince George city councillor Albert Koehler, who was among many who spoke at this year’s Tulip Commemoration ceremony, which recognizes The Netherlands’ (Holland) liberation from Nazi-Germany during World War II in 1945 and the part played by Canadian military soldiers in pushing them out of the country.
While the idea is always to honour those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of freedom, Koehler adds this should also be a time of reflection and growth.
“Forgiveness is very important,” he explained to those in attendance.” Especially in this day and age where there’s conflict around the world, we need to remember this key aspect of life. We will always remember lives lost, but we must honour them as well by forgiving our neighbours.”
The Dutch-Canadian Tulip Commemoration (DCTC) Society in Prince George celebrated the 74th year like they do each year; allowing the public to share testimonies.
Johanna Jenkins is a first-generation Canadian in her family, which are descendants of Holland liberators.
“Dutch people will always be grateful to Canada for their role in the liberation and it is our duty to pass it sentiment on to future generations of Dutch-Canadians,” she explained to the crowd Saturday afternoon (May 18).
Jenkins went on to tell a story about how her family took in a pair of German exchange students last November and were curious why, at the time, everyone was wearing a poppy.
“We explained to them the story of the poppy and we also mentioned that we were going to go to the Remembrance Day service downtown. They asked afterwards, ‘Can we come?’ and we said, ‘Of course you can come.’ So we all came down and they met an RCMP officer that obliged them and took a photo with them. They went back home to show their families, and I’m hoping one day soon these two young men will come back to Canada in the Spring time so I can answer the next question I know they’ll ask, ‘How come you’re dedicating the tulips?’”
Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond was also in attendance and she also shared her Dutch background, explaining how her mother taught her many pearls of life based on the tulip commemoration.
“The Canadian soldiers who came and liberated her country; we were taught from a very early age that we needed to be thankful that we were Canadian and grateful for the acts of selflessness that Canadian soldiers participated in. Thousands of them died to liberate our country and I remain very grateful for that to this day.”
The 2019 recognition ceremony took place in Veterans’ Plaza in front of the five flag poles outside city hall instead of the cenotaph due to ongoing construction.
Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall also spoke at the ceremony, making mention of 2020’s milestone liberation possibly be recognized with a flag being raised in front of city hall.
Next year will mark the 75th anniversary of Holland’s liberation.