My husband and I lived in Amsterdam for a brief while. This is a city and a people where the second world war is still very close and very personal. We lived on Gerrit van der Veenstraat . Following the war the street was renamed after the resistance fighter Gerrit van der Veen . He was executed by the Gestapo. On this street there is a monument honouring him. I walked past it every day and always, always there were fresh flowers in the niche of the building.
At noon on the first Monday of every month the defence air raid siren would sound. Pedestrians would pause. Cyclists would dismount. Men would take off their hats. All were honouring those who gave their lives during the war.
To be a Canadian in Amsterdam is to be frequently thanked by strangers. The Dutch have not forgotten it was the Canadians who liberated Holland.
I discovered the red poppies. The poppies that grew in Flanders Field. The poppies despite the war ravaged land bravely showed their colours. I found them in vacant lots and bits of forgotten land. Anywhere these glorious flower could take root. It is understandable why these symbolic flowers are so important. We wear them over our hearts to show we remember.
I returned home with packages of Dutch red poppy seeds and year after year the poppies bloom in my garden. Of all the flowers in my garden it is the red poppy dearest to my heart.