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News | July 23, 2010

Canadian Forces Nijmegen contingent visits Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

OTTAWA - On July 22nd, the Canadian Forces contingent participating in the 94th annual International Four Day Marches Nijmegen visited the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands for a memorial service on the third day of the Nijmegen Marches in the year of the 65th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands.

Many members of the contingent considered their visit to Groesbeek the most important part of the strenuous four-day march, as it represents our history, sacrifice, remembrance, and the affection Canadians have received from the Dutch community since the end of the Second World War. The Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, which was opened on May 5, 1947 by Queen Wilhelmina, is the final resting place to some 2,338 Canadian soldiers and airmen who died in the battles to liberate the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945.

Gunner Jeffrey Rijnen, a member of the 3 Area Support Group Team, participated in the Nijmegen Marches as a way to honour his grandfather who served with the Dutch Army during World War II, was placed in a concentration camp, and was part of the force to help liberate the Netherlands. Rijnen very quietly and emotionally described to the local Dutch how he is honoured to be marching the streets of Nijmegen and to be at the Groesbeek cemetery in a Canadian uniform.

“The crowds always cheered for the Canadian teams,” said Rijnen. “In my opinion, they cheered for the Canadians the loudest.”

Cpl. Dale Ogilvie, a member of the North American Aerospace Defence Command team from Colorado Springs, found the memorial service particularly emotional as his great uncle, S.MCC.Ogilvie, was the youngest member of the Royal Canadian Air Force to be killed in the war at the age of 18, and is buried at the Groesbeek Cemetery. He and his team took the time to hold a minute of silence at the grave site of his great uncle.

Many members of the Canadian contingent participated in this years Nijmegen Marches as a way to remember those that helped liberate the Netherlands 65 years ago. The memorial service at Groesbeek gave everyone the opportunity to reflect on the past, honour those that paid the ultimate sacrifice, and understand the strong bond between the Canadians and the Dutch.

It was a day full of emotion for the Canadians on parade and our Dutch friends who stood and paid their respects as well.