Sunday, May 10, 2015

Every Day is VE Day

Every Day is VE Day


I remember it like it was yesterday. We were all sitting in the classroom of our one room schoolhouse when Mrs. Harrison, our teacher announced the war was over and that school was closed for the day.  We didn’t quite fathom the significance of it, being in grade four at the time, but Freddie Anderson did. It meant his dad was coming home! Even “Ooui Kazooie Buzz Bomb” – that was Freddie’s dog who came to school more often than Freddie did, was excited enough to actually leave the building with his young master.

Well that was a long time ago, but it was never to be forgotten. There were days and weeks and months of commotion what with service people coming home and the whole world reorganizing itself into a new normalcy. Finally it all folded into our lives so we didn’t think about it any more except for special days like anniversaries. It wasn’t until the other day though while we were watching the VE Day celebrations in the Netherlands on television that it all came together for me and the missus. You see, my wife was a child in Holland when those old soldiers first marched into the Netherlands to liberate the country. She didn’t arrive in Canada until 1956. A lot of wonderful things happened both in the Netherlands and in Canada since that time and eventually I married the little Dutch girl – on May the eighth, of all days. At the time we didn’t consider the date as significant other than it was our wedding day. We had other things on our minds.

But over the years, two things struck us. Firstly ours was a flourishing union based on love and true friendship between a Dutch girl and a Canadian man and that nothing but good things could come from it. That strikes a chord in describing the relationship between the Netherlands and Canada and my Dutch bride and me. The thing is that with the initials of my names as V and E we celebrate VE day in a fashion that was not prompted by World War II. And if the bond between Holland and Canada is as strong and unbreakable as it is between me and the missus, it will last an awfully long time.

We don’t think often enough of the young men sleeping in the well kept cemeteries over there, or even of the Dutch people who were starved to death by the Nazis, nor do we remember the young people over there who regularly tend these graves and give meaning to this special bond, but we should for it would alter our feelings toward those who have suffered so needlessly. And it might well serve as an example of how we should be.

I know there’s no connection between what happened in Holland and me and the missus, but the accidental coincidence of our anniversary and VE Day may not really be so accidental after all. It’s worth sharing.

Victor Epp

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