Civilian Service of
Remembrance and Thanksgiving - 2007

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Gerrit Reintjes, Holland

"Now, after sixty-three years, we may send a message from Veulen to our British liberators.

Veulen is a small agricultural village with 500 inhabitants. It is one of the ten villages of the municipality Venray. Venray is situated in the southeast of the Netherlands, close to the German border.

There is a British war cemetery in Venray, where almost 700 brave liberators have found their last resting-place. They lost their lives for our freedom. Every year on the second Sunday in September there is an impressive Remembrance. Every year many veterans visit the cemetery and remember their friends.

During the Second World War, heavy fights took place between the Allies and the Germans in Venray and surroundings. In the autumn of 1944 the frontline ran right through our village for six weeks. There was a very heavy battle and 58 brave English and Scottish soldiers lost their lives during this fight. Also a Halifax bomber crashed in our village and 7 airmen were killed.

As the people of Dover have done, we will erect a memorial for these brave soldiers. We have had the idea to make this memorial from a piece of the cliffs from Dover. This will bring (symbolically) a piece of their homeland, which they never saw again, to the place where they died.

In 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our liberation, a young girl read this poem:

I am twenty-one years
I was born a long time after Word War II
I visited school in freedom
I have a car and go out in the weekends to the disco
I have parents
I have a home
I never have been hungry
I donít know what war is

What is hunger?
What is a concentration camp?
What is a raid?
What is a bomb?
What is an evacuation?
What is terror?
I know that we are free!

I know that many of our liberators have paid for our freedom with their lives.
I know that we do not often realize that.

A thousand times thanks to our liberators for our freedom!

Thatís what I and all the people from Veulen would like to say to you!

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