By Rita Hoefnagels, USAG Benelux Public AffairsMay 3, 2019
SCHINNEN, The Netherlands -- Each year, The Netherlands observes Remembrance Day on May 4 and Liberation Day on May 5. Both days are significant to the country as its people will remember the fallen in World War II and recognize the country's freedom.
MAY 4 - REMEMBRANCE DAY
Every year at 8 p.m. on May 4, the Dutch commemorate civilians and Soldiers who have died in the Kingdom of The Netherlands or elsewhere in the world since the outbreak of World War II, both in war situations and in peacekeeping missions, with two minutes of silence. During these minutes, public transport stops as ceremonies are broadcasted live on radio and television.
Prior to this homage, a commemorative service is held at the National Monument on the Dam Square in Amsterdam with speeches and wreath layings. The first wreath is laid by King William Alexander and Queen Maxima.
Every municipality commemorates Remembrance Day in its own way. Dutch television stations also devote considerable attention to this tradition. Besides the National Monument on the Dam Square, there are broadcasts of the commemorations at the Waalsdorpervlakte near The Hague, where many Dutch resistance fighters were executed during the war, and at the war cemetery in Grebbeberg, where a major battle took place and claimed many lives.
Flags everywhere in the country are at half-mast as a sign of mourning from 6 p.m. until sundown. The next day, the flag is hoisted again everywhere to celebrate Liberation Day.
MAY 5 - LIBERATION DAY
On Liberation Day, also known as Freedom Day, the Dutch celebrate the surrender of Nazi Germany. For The Netherlands, this marked the end of World War II, even though the war had not yet ended in the rest of Europe and Asia.
It is a day to realize how lucky we are to live in a country where people have freedom.
Popular events are the Liberation Day Pop Festival in Haarlem and Liberation Day Festival in Wageningen. Many officials visit Wageningen, because it was in this small town that the Germans troops in the Netherlands surrendered in 1945.
Every province has a Liberation Festival with many national and international artists in addition to fireworks displays. These festivals are all free of charge. There will be events in cities across the country including:
- Almere at Esplanade, noon to 11 p.m.
- Westerpark, Amsterdam, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Den Bosch at Pettelaarse Schans, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
- The Hague at Malieveld, noon to 11 p.m.
- Haarlem at Haarlemmerhout, noon to 11 p.m.
- Roermond at Market Square, noon to 11:45 p.m.
- Rotterdam at Euromast Park on Westzeedijk/Parkkade, 12:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.