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The man on the bicycle remembered

It now has been a number of years since I visited my home country.

On one such trip my wife and I stayed with family members. One day we decided to take bicycles and tour the area for an afternoon. The bike paths there are wide and well maintained. Some of these cross traffic lanes and are equipped with traffic lights.

I was wearing a sweater that clearly indicated I was from Canada. When we had gone some distance, we came to a stop at a red light on our path.

Ahead of us was a man of advanced age. Noticing my sweater, he realized he would be understood in the local language, despite the city traffic noise.

He called out what amounted to: “When you are back in Canada, extend my thanks once again to the Canadians for what they did for us in 1945.” I promised him I would. The light changed to green, and we parted — each going his own way.

The memories of this one man are shared by so many who experienced Canadian troops’ liberation of the Dutch during the spring of 1945. These sentiments remain strong during yearly festivities and parades May 5 in honor of that liberation.

Regrettably, in late 1944, at the center of the country, so many lives were lost in a war that never should have been.

My thoughts go out even now to those who never were given the time to grow up. There were the youngsters wearing the yellow Star of David on their clothing. You would see them going to their school but later on would not see them again. After some time I finally understood I would never see them again.

I think about the resistance fighters who knowingly wagered their lives. And then, too, I remember all those who fell into the hands of the enemy and lost their lives because of an inhuman dictator.

Even now, decades after 1945, younger generations participate in the remembrance ceremonies of a time before their time that has somehow become part of their stories. These younger ones understand what it was all about by what they were told and what they read and what images they can derive from the many remembrance monuments throughout the entire nation.

We should never forget what was given us. The man on the bicycle did not forget.

Tony Antonides lives in Central Point.