Dutch Children performed songs and dances for their Liberators
People often
ask why I work for Hope For The Warriors® and why this work is so important to
me.  The honor that I give to service
members and veterans is directly related to my parents.
Liberation
Day is May 5 in The Netherlands, the day that the country was freed from Nazi rule
back in 1945.  My parents immigrated to
the United States in 1956 with very little. 
But coming to the United States with almost nothing, was better than
trying to farm in a small country, still struggling after two world wars.
My parents
knew firsthand the terror of living under the rule of an evil leader.  They knew the fear of an unexpected knock at
the door and unwelcome German soldiers searching their home.  My parents tell stories of home
searches—Germans looking for both people as well as hidden food supplies.  Their voices still held some of their fears
as they shared their stories, but also some pride in the tricks that were used
and never discovered.
My Mother with her family
My mother’s
family had a shelter—dug just large enough for her parents, herself, and her ten
brothers and sisters(Yes…13 of them!). And yet they still managed to hide one
or two Allie soldiers that were separated from their platoon.  My father biked throughout his farming
community, collecting food on a little cart that trailed behind him.  It was not until years later that he learned
that the food was for those fighting in the resistance. 
My father on his farm
My daughter
once interviewed my parents for her history project and asked the question,
“Who was your hero?”  My parents quickly
responded, “We had no heroes.  If you
looked to anyone as a hero, they would have been taken away and killed.”
The Allies
and the Liberation of the Netherlands changed that.  The service members became their heroes and
that has never changed, even 70 years later. 
Because of those men, I did not have the same experiences that my
parents had growing up.  I have no idea
what it is like to live in fear of a knock on the door.
Growing up,
Memorial Day meant parades in my small town. Following the parade was a
Memorial Day Service, honoring those who had made the ultimate sacrifice for
our freedoms.  As a child, I wanted to
run off with my friends but my mom never allowed that.  My mom’s life, and therefore my life, would
have been significantly different had it not been for the sacrifices of those
who served. Those men paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving me the life I have
today.  She was determined that I learn
this important lesson.
My parents married in 1956 and boarded this ship 10 days later
Not everyone
can draw such a direct line from these sacrifices to his or her daily
life.  Yet each one of us lives in a
country with freedoms and privileges vastly greater than the majority of people
in this world. My mom and dad’s experiences allowed me to see both ends of the
freedom spectrum, and thanks to that important lesson, I recognize the need to thank
and support our military. And perhaps even more important, because of the
thousands of men and women who have served and continue to serve in our
military, I am conscious of and grateful for these freedoms for my parents, my
family, and myself.