STRONG PATHS. STRONG SHOES.

Yesterday was Remembrance Day, the day we take time to honor those who have defended, and who do defend, our democratic freedom as a country.

Today I say thank you to each person, man or woman, who has responded to the call to do the hard things required.

I’d like to share with you some of the meaning of what those past days have meant for our family.

  • Mr. Van is of Dutch heritage, Canadian, born in Canada. His parents were both Dutch, born in Holland.

Dad and Mom van Nieuwkerk emigrated from Holland to Canada following World War Two. They experienced a lot of the horror of the war, as did many others, and they were thankful for an opportunity to begin a new life in a new land. They came to Canada to join some of their family who were already living here. Their journey to Canada and the early years of their Canadian life involved many difficult times, but they worked hard, learned English when Mr. Van began Grade One, and created a good life for their family.

Mr. Van’s grandparents also immigrated later. They were over fifty years of age. What a challenge that must have been to learn a new language and to adapt to a new culture in mid-life…

  • I am also Canadian, born in Canada. My family heritage is a mixture of different cultures. My ancestors emigrated to North America in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Both my maternal (World War One) and my paternal (World War Two) grandfathers served overseas. They had the privilege of aiding in the fight for democracy in two different wars which led to the freedom that Mr. Van’s family was privileged to experience.

  • As I was growing up, I remember many Remembrance Day services at school. My earliest memories begin around age nine in Grade Four.

Standing for that minute of silence to pay respect to those who had served and the many who had given up their lives in order to provide our freedom stirred up in me a life-long interest in discovering the strength of character one must have to either give up one’s life for another, or to receive what costs another person so much.

  • Corrie Ten Boom was a well-known Dutch woman who was a Christian. She was involved in Holland in rescuing many Jewish people in her community who had to flee for safety. She quoted,

“If God sends us on strong paths, we are provided strong shoes.”

Corrie Ten Boom

I believe that God did provide strong shoes for my grandfathers as they travelled on a ship, leaving their homeland to travel to where they had never been to join in the fight for people they didn’t know, never knowing that they were assisting to provide freedom for my in-laws who would need very strong shoes to get on a ship, leaving their homeland to travel to where they also had never been, to face a new life they had never expected to live.

God keep our land, glorious and free. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee…

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