Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Due to a childhood illness that left him deaf in one ear, my Mom's father (Opa to me) was spared from the draft in Holland at the beginning of WWII. This "stroke of luck" as he thought of it kept him from a fate of German POW camps, or possibly worse. When the Canadian troops liberated Holland from the Nazi occupation in 1945, Opa became eternally grateful to these Canadian soldiers who freed his homeland, and eventually would be his fellow country-men when he and my Oma and their then 3 children (one of whom was my Mom) immigrated to Canada 1951.

Through his entire life, my Opa retained his profound gratitude towards the men and women that were responsible for his freedom, and for the open-armed welcome that he felt he received when he arrived in Canada. He instilled this in all of us, from his children right down to his grandchildren. He was often found organizing Dutch tributes for his new homeland, and everyone from the oldest to the youngest were encouraged to participate.
"Ted S. points the way to four-year-old Jennifer to plant one of 1000 tulip bulbs donated by the Dutch Embassy to beautify the nearly completed London Art Gallery." November 1979

(That's me on the left, my cousin Mike in the middle, and my cousin Michelle on the right, in our traditional Dutch costume - wooden shoes and all!)

Happy Remembrance Day. I hope you had time today to reflect on what the people that have gone before us sacrificed, so that we could live the lives we do today. I think a lot about my dad today too, as his funeral was held on Remembrance Day - although his sacrifices weren't in the war, he sure worked awful hard to make sure our family lived the best lives we possibly could.

(To give credit where credit is due, most of this information is taken from an article my Uncle Brian wrote that appeared in the Globe and Mail on April 11th of 2002.)


Gretel said...

Thanks for sharing this, Jenn. Not only does it remind me of the war related losses, but you remind me of every Dutch family that I knew growing up and of the common characteristics of kindness, hard working ethic and humility that they all carried. You do your heritage and your family proud - even when you're not looking adorable in your wooden shoes and cute bonnet! Your Opa and your Dad and all the other Dutch ancestors are smiling on you with pride.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Awesome story, hon! Thanks for sharing!

sheila said...

Oh, I really enjoyed that post. The pics were really good too. What a nice piece of family history that you've shared. You guys look sooooooo cute with your little hats and shoes.

Jonny's Mommy said...

What a nice memory and nice bit of history for us "down south."

We celebrate Veterans Day, which is slightly similar but honors or veterans. In May we have Memorial Day, again another day to remember and honor.

Great photos too!