ANTIGONISH: This year marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands – however, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it didn’t allow for the normal celebration.
Every year on May 5, the Netherlands celebrates its liberation during the Second World War and Canadian soldiers played a key role in helping the rid the Dutch get rid of their Nazi occupiers.
Close to 175,000 Canadians took part in the campaign to liberate the Netherlands, and more than 7,600 soldiers lost their lives fighting for the Dutch royal family.
Three days before Germany gave its unconditional surrender, signalling an official end to the Second World War, German troops surrendered in the Netherlands on May 5, 1945.
Today, May 5 is celebrated as Liberation Day in the Netherlands and follows the country’s National Day of Remembrance on May 4.
As a symbol of the friendship between the two nations, every spring, tulips gifted to Canada from the Netherlands bloom in Ottawa.
At the time, Dutch Princess Juliana of the Netherlands presented 100,000 tulip bulbs to Canada to express her nation’s gratitude.
Since then the Netherlands has presented Canada with 20,000 tulip bulbs every year, inspiring the very first Canadian Tulip Festival in 1953.
This year, to virtually commemorate the 75 anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and VE-Day, due to physical distancing measures, Veterans Affairs Canada encouraged people to share photos of tulips online with the hashtags #Netherlands75 and #TulipsAtHome.
A sea of orange flooded social media and a tulip takeover hit Twitter, Instagram and Facebook sharing photos of tulips to mark the day.
The Royal Canadian Legion highlighted over 1.1 million liberation tulips bloomed across Canadian municipalities in honour of the 1.1 million Canadians who served and sacrificed in the Second World War.
Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet Francisca of the Netherlands, who was born in Ottawa during the Second World War, recorded a special video message to share with Canadians as well, noting that regular celebrations could not take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Canada and Canadians always have a special place in our hearts,” Francisca said in the video. “Many Canadian soldiers have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Their graves are tended with love and care.”
Last year, the Canadian parliament also named May 5 to be recognized as Dutch Heritage Day throughout the country.