Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Free Speech?

Tomorrow, if they were still alive, my father and his twin brother would have been 102 years old. There is a letter my father sent home from Holland dated October 13th, 1944 in which he says:
"We are right in there pitching to beat hell and having quite an exciting time. We always manage to find a house or barn to sleep in, if we can get one with a basement, so much the better. As I write there are jerry shells whizzing around and landing quite close. About five minutes ago, just as I was finishing writing to Punch [his brother] one of the few remaining doors was knocked off our house by shrapnel. Before we came in the old man and old lady (between 70 and 80 years old) were both killed in the house, they chose not to evacuate and that was the result. All of the houses are smashed up and most of the civies have evacuated, quite a few dead jerries lying around.

We are on high ground overlooking the front and have a grandstand view of the battle up ahead. We have a wonderful artillery barrage and swell support from the Typhoons and Spits of the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. They sure make a grand sight with their rockets, bombs and cannon. No air opposition and very little flak."
Of course, my dad was putting on a brave face. He sustained shrapnel in his leg during one of those battles and, according to my mother, after the war for a long time, he would have nightmares in his sleep. For many years afterward he and my mother exchanged letters with a Dutch couple with whom he had stayed during the war. To this day, the Dutch have a special place in their history for the brave Canucks who slugged it out beating back Hitler in those terrible times.

God bless him and my mother for the sacrifices of their generation, but didn't he slog his way through the Netherlands in 1944 to preserve freedom of expression for the Dutch? I hope they haven't forgotten.

Happy birthday, Dad. I honour you and the sacrifices made by your generation.


Anonymous Expat Texan said...


Thanks for that. Our generation too often forgets what was at stake, and what sacrifices were made in the name of freedom.

Happy (belated) Canada Day. Happy Independence Day.

July 03, 2008 2:05 pm  

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