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Sunday, May 08, 2005

happy mother's day - and V E-Day as well

Honor thy mothers on this day - and thy dead, wounded and veterans from World War II too...! It's just the right thing to do... :)

The Luminous Blog's Dedicatory to "Mom" (to be applied to all moms thus)

War dead honoured in VE-Day commemorations News Staff

Canadians honoured their veterans at solemn ceremonies in Ottawa on Sunday, as the 60th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day was marked in commemorations worldwide.

Prime Minister Paul Martin joined Canadian veterans who attended the official opening of the new Canadian War Museum on Sunday.

Martin said time is suspended within the "trench-like walls" of the new museum.

"We offer a quiet prayer for soldiers known and unknown who found eternal rest far from home," he said.

Addressing the crowd by satellite from the Netherlands, where she attended a parade in honour of Canadian veterans, Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson said the museum is the embodiment of remembrance.

Hundreds of veterans marched from the National War Memorial to the new $136-million facility, which chronicles Canada's war history.

"This is not a museum which glorifies war, what it does is honour those who have served and sacrificed and seeks to explain their actions within a broader national context ... It's a very, very powerful tribute," military historian Serge Durflinger told CTV Newsnet.

Martin and the leaders of the three opposition parties will fly to Holland to take part in celebrations Monday after marking VE-Day in Ottawa.

'In the name of a higher ideal'

Earlier on Sunday, an estimated 10,000 people -- including veterans, dignitaries, serving soldiers and cadets -- participated in a service at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Silence fell after the bugle played the last note of taps on Sunday morning, and veterans meditated on the events that had transpired sixty years ago.

Reflecting on Canadian involvement in the Second World War, Durflinger said the nation's contribution was "phenomenal."

"(It was) well out of proportion to its population at the time and it's something that we need to remember -- that in the past, this country has pulled together and done great things in the name of a higher ideal," he said.

Martin, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper laid wreaths at the ceremony in front of hundreds of spectators attending the event.

"I think today's a day for reflection about what Victory in Europe meant, and how we can make sure that as we go forward in the twenty-first century, we never repeat such an experience," Defence Minister Bill Graham said after the commemorative event, appearing on CTV's Question Period.

Meanwhile in Europe on Sunday, thousands of Dutch honoured Canadian veterans who played a significant role in liberating the Netherlands.

In Apeldoorn, Canadian veterans were the recipients of flowers, handshakes, and embraces as they rode by in Second World War vehicles, snaking down the two-kilometre parade route.

Among the spectators were Clarkson and Princess Margriet, who was born in an Ottawa hospital in 1943, a time when the Dutch royal family sought refuge in Canada.

Canadians played a major role in liberating the Netherlands after five years of Nazi occupation and the Dutch have shown their gratitude ever since with annual remembrance events and gifts of tulips.

'Great victory for liberty'

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, U.S. President George Bush honoured soldiers who paid a "terrible price," decades ago.

About 55 million people had lost their lives by the time the Nazi Germany fell to the Allies and the Second World War ended on May 8, 1945.

"On this peaceful May morning, we commemorate a great victory for liberty," Bush said at one of Europe's largest cemeteries for American soldiers.

"We come to this ground to remember the cause for which these soldiers fought and triumphed."

Before his statements, he and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands laid wreaths of tribute in memory of the fallen troops.

"Our debt of gratitude is too great to express in words," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said of the American liberation of the Netherlands from the Nazis.

"They gave us the most precious gift -- freedom. Today, I salute them."

From the ceremony, Bush headed to Moscow where dozens of dignitaries will be continuing VE-Day celebrations at a Red Square military parade on Monday featuring veterans and jets flying overhead.

Russia paid the heaviest price of any nation during the war, losing some 26 million soldiers and citizens.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting the ceremony on Monday -- the day regarded in Russia as the anniversary.

Dignitaries expected to attend the commemoration include: Chinese President Hu Jintao, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Other events on Sunday:

In Berlin on Sunday, Schroeder and German President Horst Koehler attended a cathedral service before a wreath-laying ceremony at a memorial to victims of the war.
In France, President Jacques Chirac attended a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where he laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Later, thousands jammed the streets of Paris for a massive military parade as jets flew overhead, streaking the sky with the red, white, and blue of the French flag.

In London, hundreds watched as Prince Charles, dressed in full military attire, laid a wreath of blood-red poppies at the Cenotaph memorial.

In Austria, at the former Methuen death camp, thousands remembered the 100,000 inmates killed by Nazis there.

However, not all of the day's events were in honour of the Allies. About 3,000 protesters rallied at a far-right demonstration in Berlin, lamenting the "cult of guilt" they say was imposed on the nation after the Second World War. They planned to hold a march but it was later cancelled. At least 5,000 opponents congregated to block their planned route but there were no clashes.

With files from The Associated Press
Paul e-mailed the following (in abridged version):

''... reminds me of John Belushi's hysterical SNL bit one time - ''oh they love their mothers...!!!''. HA! Of course they do - some of them shouldn't have been BORN in the first place - yet their mommies still gave birth to each and every one of them... EH?!?''

Glad to see you in the usual mood, sunshine...

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