Remembrance 2024

Flowers at the graves of soldiers and resistance fighters
In the afternoon, the members of the Commemoration and Celebration with the Veterans Committee laid flowers at the graves of allied soldiers and resistance fighters. This happened at the Groene Kerkje, the Roman Catholic cemetery at the St. Wilibrord Church and the Halifax monument in Haaswijk. At the Groene Kerkje they were accompanied by Mayor Emile Jaensch.

Memorial meeting in “het Dorpscentrum”
In the evening a memorial meeting took place in “het Dorpscentrum”. The meeting was attended by approximately 100 interested persons. The speaker was Prof. Dr. Marjan Schwegman, former director of the NIOD, Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She wondered if she would be willing to give her life for others if circumstances called for it. The underexposed role of women in resistance helped her to answer that question. For a long time, images of male resistance fighters mainly emerged. Women often started their resistance work close to home with the help of a friend. Yet the question is almost impossible to answer. It is difficult to imagine whether you are willing to take life-threatening risks. That makes the admiration for those who resisted even greater. You can read the entire lecture here, as well as the presentation used.
Between the program parts, songs were sung by the 21 members of the Oegstgeest choir Capella pro Cantibus. They sang ‘Abide with me’, ‘Ubi caritas’, ‘Da pacem domine’ and ‘Thou knowsest Lord’.
The names of Allied fallen were read out by veteran Koos Verhaar. The names of resistance fighters were read out by Cor van Beuningen, chairman of the Council of Churches. The names of the Jewish victims were read out by Caroline van Tongeren, board member of the Commemoration and Celebration Committee.
In preparation for this day, Jan Halin and Caroline van Tongeren had given a guest lesson for 5 VWO students from the Rijnlands Lyceum Oegstgeest. In response to a call to do so, four students wrote a poem. They were enthusiastically supported by their History teacher and their Dutch teacher. In “het Dorpscentrum”, Sieger Pols read his poem ‘Looking’ and Eva de Bruin her poem ‘Peace’.

National Commemoration in the Wijckerslooth Forest
After the meeting in “het Dorpscentrum”, those present walked to the Bos van Wijckerslooth where the National Commemoration took place. All Dutch war victims are commemorated: civilians and soldiers who gave their lives for freedom in the Kingdom of the Netherlands and anywhere in the world since the outbreak of the Second World War and subsequently in war situations and peace operations. Despite the rain, many interested parties attended this commemoration.
The scouting group Shawano’s provided the honorary couloir and the tattoo and other music were played by Franciscusband Leiden.
The speaker at the National Commemoration was Rev. Aart Verburg, former pastor of the Protestant Community of Oegstgeest. He spoke of ‘graved images’. The images we have of population groups, sometimes consisting of prejudices, an image of the enemy or a caricature. We humans have the task not to make scapegoats of groups of people. Not even from a religion. Remembering victims is an important step in this. In addition, we must break down ‘carved images’ within ourselves to become more human and fellow human beings.
Two 5th VWO students from the Rijnlands Lyceum read their poem. In ‘Gedoofd’, Manouk van Harskamp described the burden and stamp that the Star of David signified. Jonah Blokhuizen described in ‘Silence’ the silence of the dead and those who are oppressed.
After the two minutes of silence and the Wilhelmus, wreaths and flowers were laid by the Municipal Council of Oegstgeest, the Commemoration and Celebration Committee, the Oegstgeest Orange Association, the Kempenaer business investment zone and the Lange Voort shopping center, two flower arrangements by the Veterans Committee for the fallen soldiers in WWII and the subsequent battle in the former Dutch East Indies and for the victims of the Japanese occupation, a flower wreath and peace candle by the Council of Churches, the Neighborhood Police Oegstgeest, the Rijnlands Lyceum Oegstgeest, Scouting group Sagara Satrya’s, the Halifax Committee and Drumfanfare FBL-Franciscusband Leiden. Then attendees walked past the flowers. Finally, the opportunity was offered to have a drink and chat in “het Dorpscentrum”.