Military members, including the Chief of Staff for Military Personnel Command, gathered at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa today to see off a contingent of more than 200 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel are headed to the Netherlands for the 101st annual International Four Days Marches Nijmegen.
“Canadian Armed Forces participation in the Nijmegen Marches signals our ongoing commitment, through NATO, to European peace and security. Further, with commemorative events planned this year at Vimy and Passchendaele, our marchers will pay tribute to the courage and determination of the two generations of Canadians who made that peace and security possible,” said Cmdr. Haydn Edmundson, Chief of Staff for Military Personnel Command.
Taking place from July 18 to July 21, the Nijmegen Marches attract more than 45,000 civilians from over 50 countries and 5,500 military members to challenge their physical and mental endurance.
The Nijmegen Marches were originally a way for the Dutch infantry to improve their long-distance marching while carrying significant weight. They Marches were officially established in 1916.
The CAF contingent, led by Col. Geoff Abthorpe, will commemorate the 65th anniversary of the CAF’s participation in the Marches.
The CAF’s participation in the Marches celebrates Canada’s longstanding relationship with the Netherlands, blooming from their role in liberating the country during the Second World War.
“I am excited to lead this year’s marchers in this challenging test of fitness and teamwork, and in honouring those who came before us. In working together to reach their goal, and by showing that respect for history, the CAF participants in the 2017 Nijmegen Marches will demonstrate the true strength of a diverse modern military,” said Abthorpe.
The CAF contingent is made of 13 teams of 11 marchers each and special guests and support staff. Members are participating from across the country, include men and women of diverse backgrounds and represent all ranks of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
They will march 160 km through the Dutch countryside and towns near the city of Nijmegen.
Also during their trip, the CAF contingent will pay homage to Canada’s First World War legacy in Europe with ceremonies at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, the Passchendaele Canadian Memorial and the Menin Gate memorial in Ypres, Belgium.
A ceremony will also take place on Day 3 of the Marches at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands, to remember fallen Canadians from the Second World War.