Lest we forget 

click to flip through (5) Roy Buchholz (right) with a friend at Trafalgar Square, London, U.K. during his service in WW II.
  • Roy Buchholz (right) with a friend at Trafalgar Square, London, U.K. during his service in WW II.

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As a boy, I remember asking him of his wartime experiences, especially as a dispatch rider, since this sounded so exciting. He would usually give some tidbits of information, but often the answers would be vague and many times I heard him say, "it (the war) was the best and the worse time of my life." I know at that time the words were carefully chosen not to scare me or glorify war.

Now that I am older, the stories are more about the overall accomplishment of the Canadians and allied forces that he served with. He has always been proud of the role they played in the Liberation of Holland. Still he doesn't go into great detail about his individual experiences. However, he does say, "there was a cost," and that cost was the lives of the many soldiers that died in the battle.

My father tells me today that the Dutch people were so thankful to be liberated that, "they treated us like gods," as Canadian soldiers entered and gained control of each town. The Dutch people suffered terribly under the occupation of the Nazis, and in the later stages of the war there was mass starvation. So thankful were they to be liberated, my father told me, "that they would also lay flowers on the graves of allied soldiers who where buried in the battle fields."

Liberation Day was May 4, 1945. From that point onward the Dutch people have made it tradition to remember the Canadian Soldiers (and other allied soldiers) who are now reinterred in Canadian and Commonwealth War Cemeteries in the Netherlands. As my father discovered in 1998, the Dutch people living near these cemeteries hold their remembrance ceremonies on this day and children from local schools lay a flower on the grave of every soldier. These soldiers are further honoured on Christmas Eve, as local children will also place a candle by their gravestone.

These act of appreciation and kindness stirred my father, as he felt that not only was this a fitting way to remember the liberators lost but also a way of giving peace to his lost comrades. This inspired him to find a way to recognize those children who remember these soldiers that fought for their freedom

In recognition of placing flowers on the graves of Canadian soldiers, my father sees to it that each child receives a Canadian Maple Leaf Pin, and their schools are given a Canadian flag to fly on Liberation Day. In doing this he created what he calls Project Maple Leaf (http://www.come.to/wavholten). To launch this project he also wrote this poem to capture in verse the essences of this project.

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