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Rain masked tears of emotion during Liberation parade

Inclement weather failed to dampen spirits

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

APELDOORN - The National Veterans Parade on May 8, which marked the 60th anniversary of VE-Day, was an event no one will soon forget. Although the rain showered the joyous occasion, it could not dampen the warm sentiments of thanks expressed by both the estimated 100,000 spectators and the parade’s participants. Over 1,700 Canadian veterans took part in the parade, some marched with their units, others rode in one of over 350 vintage WWII vehicles. The parade was reviewed by, among others, Ottawa-born Princess Margriet and Canada’s Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. A fly-over of vintage planes preceded the parade.

Conspicuously absent from the reviewing stand, and from nearly all of the other official and semi-official ceremonies during the week-long Liberation event, was Canada’s Prime Minister Paul Martin. Citing a ‘constitutional issue in the House of Commons,’ Martin stayed at home to defend his government against a looming vote of non-confidence in Parliament. The Liberal Party subsequently lost such a vote. In an attempt to placate angry veterans and suit public opinion, the P.M. invited the leaders of the three other main parties in Parliament to join him on the one-day trip to Europe. They missed nearly all of the official events.

The parade in Apeldoorn, temporary home of the Canadian Army after the Liberation in May 1945, turned into a mutual love affair between the spectators along the route and the veterans and others in the parade. Just like in 1945, onlookers shook hands, gave flowers and embraced the formers soldiers, most of them well over 80 years old. The often spontaneous expressions of joy reduced many veterans to tears, which in turn, choked up many people along the route, some of whom remembered Liberation of 1945 as well.

The 2005 Apeldoorn parade is the final one. It is expected that by 2010, few of the then surviving veterans would still be able to travel to the Netherlands.