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WWII veterans remain the focus for travel firm owner Verstraete

Tours include battle fields

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

If Baldwin Verstraete were to be asked to summarize the focus of his Verstraete travel and cruise business, he may well decide on this four-word line his business used in recent tour advertisements for WWII veterans and their families: Keeping the memory alive. Taking former Canadian soldiers for a return visit to battlefields and other significant places increasingly has become his specialty. He still arranges such tours, even though WWII veterans now are aged 80 and over.

His Keeping the memory alive tours often attract younger family members as well, who accompany returning veterans on their trips. Repeat participants of the tours have introduced different family members to their war-time past this way. Georgetown, Ontario-resident Martin Boomsma has conducted many such tours with Verstraete and has planned another France-bound journey for May 29.

Keeping the memory alive is, of course, much easier if one has been to the sites where history was made during the campaign to restore freedom in Europe. Seeing battle sites and war cemeteries also gives a deeper appreciation for the true cost of freedom.

A tour with an Apeldoorn focus has been planned for August. Canada Netherlands Friendship Association’s Jack VanderLaan and his wife Theresa during a three-day stop-over in their 12-day European tour hope to introduce Burlington area residents to Apeldoorn, Burlington’s twin-city in the Netherlands. Following the Liberation of the Netherlands in 1945, Apeldoorn was the command centre for Canadian troops while they awaited their turn for repatriation. The city in recent years became the site of the only Canadian Legion branch in the country.