So this week, we were supposed to be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII worldwide with commemorations and festivals. But in these days when most of us are still under lockdown or shelter-in-place, we have to find other ways. In the Netherlands, we commemorate Memorial Day on May 4 and Liberation Day on May 5. (The official ending of WWII was on May 8, 1945.) The National Committee of May 4 and 5 has information in Dutch and English about these very important dates.
The commemoration normally starts with solemn ceremonies on May 4. To honor all those who have perished in conflicts around the world, a 2-minute silence is held precisely at 20:00. These 2 minutes are preceded by the "Taptoe", which sounds similar to the Last Post. This year, everyone who plays a brass instrument is invited to play the Taptoe at exactly 19:58:30, followed by the 2-minutes of silence. Then, at 20:02, the first verse of the Dutch National Anthem, "the Wilhelmus", will be sung. This year, you may fly the Dutch flag half staff on all of May 4 (not just in evening), and you raise the flag to full staff on May 5 (from sunrise to sunset). The May 4 commemorations can also be followed live on Dutch TV channels and online via the Dutch NOS.
Then, on Liberation Day (May 5), in lieu of the festivals, there will be extensive programming on Dutch TV throughout the day, with a closing at 20:35 held at the Carré Theater in Amsterdam. Some of you may already be familiar with the annual Liberation Day Concert that is normally held in front of the Carré Theater on the Amstel river. This year, a special program is planned in the foyer of the theater. The final song however, is the same song that is sung every year at the end of Liberation Day - a song that has become very popular again during this time of the pandemic. You are all invited to sing along with "We'll meet again". This song was first sung in 1942 by Dame Vera Lynn as a tribute to the soldiers who had left their home country of England to fight for freedom.
I hope you commemorate and celebrate with the Dutch. Many of us still have parents (I do, with mom at the age of 96!) or grandparents who remember these years all too well. Especially during this pandemic, this age group has a desire to commemorate and share. But with the current COVID-19 restrictions, it is exactly that age group that is prohibited from doing so. My thoughts go out to all who have experienced hardship and are now unable to commemorate and celebrate the freedom for which they suffered so much.