4th of May

Ever since the end of World War II, the Netherlands remembers its dead on the 4 of May. This is what the official remembrance website says:

‘During the national commemoration of Remembrance Day we remember all those – civilians and soldiers – who have been killed or murdered in the Kingdom of the Netherlands or anywhere else in the world in war situations or during peace-keeping operations since the outbreak of the Second World War.’

This is the official text of the Memorandum for Remembrance Day on 4 May. Ever since the end of the Second World War, the Netherlands has commemorated its dead on 4 May. As from 1961, the victims of the Second World War are remembered together with victims of other conflicts, wars and peace-keeping missions that have taken place since the outbreak of the Second World War in the Netherlands.

(source; www 4en5mei.nl)

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A while ago my mother, sisters and I went for a walk in the dunes near the Hague. It was a sunny, yet chilly day; a happy day spend in the company of those I love. After some time we came upon a War Memorial, called the ‘Waalsdorpervlakte’. During World War II over 250 people were brought there to be executed. Prisoners of war, ordinary people who’d dared to take a stand. People like you and I, caught in a time of war,once driven out there to be shot.

World War II; I’ve heard the stories, read the books, seen the movies. Images have found their way into my brain as I grew, studied my history books and was taught never to forget what happened all those years ago.

World War II; so long ago and yet so current in the world we live in today. The war ended, but new wars began. Battles were fought, some won, some lost. the same story told in a hundred different ways.
I stood there, a beautiful day in a time of peace, filled with a sudden sense of sadness. I could feel them, almost touch them; the people that had once stood there, awaiting their death. Had they looked around them, could they smell the sea?  What was on their minds as they moved towards the final minutes of their lives? Their father? Their mother? The dreams they left behind?

I stood, thought and remembered on that sunny day and these are the (Dutch) words that came to me.

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 I don’t normally translate poems, but I have attempted it just this once;

is it cold
is it warm
it doesn’t matter
it is the end

gone mother
gone father
gone the child which played
the sand, the castles,
the pirates with their cruel intentions
sailing in from faraway places

dressed in uniform
they have come
not in their ships
but in trucks and trains
crushing sand beneath their boots

the smell of the sea
memories
carried on the wind
as you stand
awaiting the beginning of nothing new

is it warm
is it cold
it doesn’t matter
it is the end

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7 thoughts on “4th of May

  1. Thanks for your true words bringing to me, for all these lost and sometimes forgotten people! Thanks for bringing them back in my memory! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hello Naomi,
    your message you left today on this site almost made me cry. And made me sad because once again, reading this, I notice how heard it is to fight against war. I think the only way for people like us to fight against it, is by being peaceful. Still I wish there was more we could do. Maybe by keeping on remembering those sad things we can stay awake and remember the importance of being peaceful all the days of our lifes.
    It’s almost 20:00. Time to keep on remembering some more minutes. Thank you for your special invitation to do so!

  3. Dear Naomi,

    What a beautiful words, Naomi. Especially because I forgot the two minutes of commemoration at 20.00 tonight. But I can assure you that I do have all the war victims very close at my heart. Whenever I “talk” with the “creator of this life” ( who ever this may be ) I also enclose them in my thoughts (prayers?) This I always have done and always will. We will never understand why there is evil in our world….. but maybe we “need” this to understand how fortunate we all are. Living in a country without war, without hunger, without fear. So thankful that whenever we feel like going outside and give our opinion, we can. Thankful for whenever we feel like eating, we open the fridge, and find something. Whenever we are cold, we open the heating system, etcetera, etcetera…..

    Wish I could do more though…. but somehow I do not seem to know how. Thanks again, for sharing Naomi, lots of love,
    xxxx

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