Reasons for Me to Remember

The Tears
I was chatting with an old guy who when he mentioned he had served in the military service.
“I have a soft spot in my heart for the Canadian military” I said. “It was Canadian soldiers who liberated the Dutch city of Hilversum where I was born and grew up during the war. I was seven years old when the tanks rumbled down our main street. I was there to greet them.”
“Is that so?” he replied, “My father was a paratrooper in the Netherlands; I was eight years old.”
Tears stung my eyes and I choked up. I wanted to say, “Thank you for being without your Dad during those years.” But I couldn’t get past a muffled, “Thank you.”

Those Canadian soldiers rolling into town in their tanks and trucks were the best thing that had happened to me in my young life.

The Razzia
As a five-year-old, I was playing in the street in front of our house, when I saw German army trucks pull into both ends of our street and soldiers pounding on doors with their rifle butts, dragging men out to load them on the trucks. I ran into the house shouting “A razzia!” (A raid!) My dad and mom immediately ran to the back room, dragged a heavy dresser away from the wall, and folded back the carpet. Dad lifted the trapdoor and slid down under the floor, crawling into a tunnel that led to a neighbour’s house.

Mom and I replaced the trap door, rolled back the carpet and pushed the dresser back in place. I rubbed away the tracks the dresser had made on the carpet. Then I ran to the dining room and took away Dad’s plate and cutlery, and moved his shoes from the front door mat to the closet. Mom ran upstairs to take Dad’s pillow from the bed, and put all his clothing into a big box in the back of the closet. Fortunately, this time, the trucks filled up and left before they came to our house, so Mom and I dragged the dresser back again and lifted the trapdoor so Dad could come out of his hidey hole.

The Firewood
During the winter that I was six years old, I scavenged for pieces of coal, firewood, or anything that would burn. For quite a while I was very lucky. Every day a large German army truck would drive down a neighboring street. Two armed soldiers sat in the cab and a man sat on the back of the truck with his leg chained to a bolt. He was sitting on a huge load of small wooden blocks. I didn’t know it at that time but these blocks were used to make wood gas to run truck engines.

Four of us boys used to wait at a certain corner, hiding in the hedges along the road. When the truck began to turn the corner, the prisoner on the back of the truck would shovel as many blocks off the back end of the truck as he could, while we rushed out from our hedges and within seconds picked up every piece, shoving them into the gunny sacks we carried and ran away. When the truck had fully turned the corner, everything the soldiers saw in the rear view mirrors was normal. My Mom was always happy to see the wood I had found. I didn’t want to worry her, so I never told her where I found it.

The Freedom
When those Canadian soldiers arrived, our lives changed. No more danger of men being dragged off to work as slaves in mines or factories. No more hunger. No more cold houses. I thanked God for those soldiers then, and I thank God for them now.

May God bless all the men and women who are dedicated to fight evil, combat crime, rescue the perishing, and bring aid to the helpless.