May 19th, 2024

Military Museum unveils courtyard memorial, Liberation of Netherlands display

By Lethbridge Herald on October 7, 2020.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge Military Museum held a special unveiling ceremony on Tuesday for two distinct displays honouring local veterans, both past and present.

For the first display, invited guests and local media were on hand to celebrate a new courtyard memorial made up of distinctively coloured bricks to create a mural of sorts in the shape of a poppy for remembrance. The new mural, surrounded by different eras of artillery guns in honour of Lethbridge’s current artillery members of the 20th Independent Field Battery and the city’s close military association with artillery units in the past, will be the first thing visitors now see when they arrive at the museum.

The donated bricks which make up the mural memorialize various men, women and even animals who have served from Lethbridge in the past.

Lethbridge Military Unit Senate Association president and Honourary Lieutenant Colonel of 20th Independent Field Battery Rick Casson said the new mural will create a lasting focal point for understanding local military history at the Lethbridge Military Museum for many years to come.

There is the poppy in the middle, and we all know what the poppy means to Canada,” he said. “It means remembrance, and the bricks can be purchased, and some of the money from the purchase goes to help fund the museum. Veterans, friends and family, whoever you’d want to put in here to remember them, you can do that. As you can see, we are getting it filled up pretty quickly.”

Casson said Lethbridge was fortunate to have this remarkable little military museum here in southern Alberta, and he hoped many would come by as local veterans and current serving military personnel get set to mark the upcoming Days of Remembrance.

If you want to get a feeling of appreciation for the lifestyle we get to lead there is a record in this museum of the men and women who helped create that,” he said. “The sacrifices made. The call to arms, and thousands upon thousands of Canadian men and women not coming home.”

Another special unveiling held at the museum on Tuesday was a temporary display constructed by local miniaturist Brett Devos to mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian soldiers in the Second World War on May 4, 1945.

The model is a scale replica of the Battle of the Walcheran causeway, a heavily fortified spit of land held by the Germans which was absolutely key to winning the overall Battle of the Scheldt, and thus to the eventual liberation of the Port of Antwerp in Belgium and then the entire nation of the Netherlands.

Honourary Consul to the Netherlands for South Alberta Irene Bakker helped unveil the model, which will be on display throughout the Days of Remembrance at the museum.

Bakker said the Dutch will always remember and honour the sacrifices of the Canadian soldiers who freed her country from the tyranny of the Nazis. Over 7,600 Canadian soldiers lost their lives during the Liberation.

She also reminded those in attendance it was this sacrifice made by these brave Canadians which forged an abiding bond between the Netherlands and Canada to this day, and which has directly led to the ongoing migration of hundreds of Dutch families to southern Alberta since the war ended.

We still pay honour to the Canadians that died, especially at the war cemetery in Holten where many Canadians lay buried,” she said. “School children come every year to put flowers on May 4 at the graveyard, and every time the Canadians come to the Netherlands the Dutch people will hug them and say, ‘Thank you very much, Canada, for the Liberation.”

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