Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) revealed its poster to recognize the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands this week.
The poster features Second World War veteran Sgt. (ret’d) Norman Kirby, one of the many Canadian soldiers who helped to liberate Dutch towns in the final weeks of fighting during the Second World War.
The background of the poster features Canadian soldiers being warmly welcomed by liberated Dutch citizens in the town of Zwolle in April 1945.
Sgt. (ret’d) Kirby enlisted in the Second World War in 1943 at the age of 17. He served with the 2 Platoon, A Company, of the North Shore (New Brunswick) Infantry Regiment. His first action in the war was on June 6, 1944, when he stormed Juno Beach as part of the D-Day assault.
After months of bloody fighting and the horrors of war, in April 1945, Kirby and his platoon liberated the city of Groningen.
According to Kirby, minutes after liberating the city, Dutch children began surrounding them in celebration, wearing paper hats with their national colours.
“After the horrors of Normandy and Belgium, this was a real treat,” stated Kirby.
The unveiling ceremony for the poster was held on Thursday in Vancouver, BC.
“I am extremely honoured to be on the poster commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and the end of the Second World War in Europe. It’s a privilege to be in this position, and nice to know that a younger generation of Canadians will continue to remember,” said Sgt. (ret’d) Kirby, who attended the unveiling ceremony.
Lawrence MacAulay, minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence, and Henk Snoeken, Consul General for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, also attended the ceremony.
Additionally, an unveiling ceremony was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at Camp Hill Veteran Memorial Building. The unveilings are the first in a series of events taking place in Canada and overseas to commemorate the brave Canadians who contributed in the Liberation of the Netherlands and the end of the Second World War.
As many as 175,000 Canadians took part in the campaign, and more than 7,600 lost their lives. This sacrifice by Canada did not go unrecognized by the Dutch people and has been the foundation of an international friendship that has lasted decades.
“Liberating the Netherlands 75 years ago created a special bond between Canada and the Dutch people – a friendship that endures to today. As we unveil this poster featuring Sergeant (ret’d) Norman Kirby, we remember him, and all the Canadians, who fought on land, on the seas and in the skies for peace and freedom 75 years ago, for the Dutch and the world,” said MacAulay.