We should be able to celebrate Liberation Day!
by Eduard Schaepman, on 2 May 2019
Did you know that we have the lowest number of national holidays in Europe with 9 days, while Slovakia has the highest number of national holidays with 15 days? That was the conclusion of research by RTL News. As far as I'm concerned, we have nothing to complain about (because I love 'working'), but I'm still missing an important day in our list: Liberation Day. Just once every 5 years we get an official day off to celebrate our freedom, even though it is such an important subject.
King's Day is a 'mandatory' day off every year, and we celebrate our king's birthday pretty good. The streets and our pastries turn orange: everywhere you see Dutch pride, solidarity and celebration! It is impossible to imagine our culture without this day, and that is not my intention at all, but I think we should add another day, to celebrate the fact that we can live in freedom.
Like every year, I will commemorate the war victims on the 4th of May at 20.00hrs on the Dam. And I must honestly say that I feel much more connected to the people around me compared to King’s Day. It is so important to think about what happened, to think about the fact that so many people lived in freedom, as we do now - until that was no longer possible. Telling the stories of a generation that is getting smaller and smaller is so important. We are silent for 2 minutes, think of all the horrors, attend the rest of the ceremony and go back home. That moment is so important, but also so short. Fortunately, the moment is reinforced by the national holiday on 5 May, when we can celebrate the fact that we live in freedom. And for many people that means a day off, and with that the possibility to visit festivals or attend other activities where there is a feeling of solidarity and pride. But we’re only allowed to do that once every five years, almost like we take our freedom for granted.
While we shouldn’t, just turn on the news and you’ll see that unfortunately, there's more than enough going on in the world. It is very important that we continue to remember and to tell the stories. And then there's so much that hasn't been said. Take my grandparents for example, they didn't like to talk about the dark period of the Second World War. But I know that both my father's family and my mother's family have been taking great risks in active resistance, and my grandmother has even saved the lives of 20 people. When I think of that, I realize again that we are lucky today. That I can enjoy the old military vehicles driving through the Gooi together with Charlie on the 5th of May.
If it was up to me, we would remember every year both the injustice and the victory, we commemorate on the 4th of May, and we would celebrate our freedom on the 5th of May. Because all those years ago our grandparents also lived in peace. Until the war came.