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Mr. Okill Stuart is a Second World War Veteran who took part in the D-Day landing and the Battle of Normandy. Since then, he has been very active in preserving the memory of the war and the sacrifices made by Canadians. He was a founding director of the Juno Beach Centre. Mr. Stuart currently serves as Officer commanding of the Fort St. Helene Garrison in the 78th Fraser Highlanders Regiment in Montreal and in 2004, he was responsible for a visit to Balmoral Castle where the Regiment performed before the Queen and Prince Philip. His passion for commemoration is especially evident during Veterans' Week. In his interviews with the media and his regular visits to local high schools and service clubs, Mr. Stuart brings the message of remembrance and the sacrifices made by Canadians to protect our values. He also reads the Honour Roll in his church and sometimes acts as parade Marshall at his cenotaph. Mr. Stuart has received many honours including the Canada 125 Medal and the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of his remarkable generosity in giving of his time.

360 graden pictures of Victorypark

Full scale: http://c3lx.nl/victorypark/

Credits: Robert Terpstra

TEARS THAT CONNECT TWO NATIONS
(Rick Boon's Reflection article on the Friesland Liberation Trip 2015)

What is the purpose of the tear?  Is its sole use in this world to simply water/ lubricate our eyes?  For every tear that is shed, there is a specific non-medical DNA attached to that tear.  For the Dutch citizen who endured close to five years
of Nazi oppression, those tears were/ are filled with despair, fear, and hatred toward a regime that took away their freedom.

Those same tears flowed daily as a once self sufficient, kind, caring nation was beaten into submission not knowing what the future would hold for them.  To have your freedom and the basic needs for life like food, water, housing taken away from you, has led the Dutch citizen to never forget those tears that were shed by their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends between May 10, 1940 to 1945.  It is definitely part of virtually every Dutch citizens unofficial DNA. When asked what the Dutch citizen is thankful for, you will always get the same response, regardless of age, gender, or part of Holland they originated from.  One word, “freedom” is spoken loud and clear without any hesitation.

Welcome to our liberators

Mr. mayor, liberators, friends and family of our liberators, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to the Netherlands, welcome to Friesland.We are very honoured that you are with us on this very special occasion.
Dear liberators, tomorrow we celebrate that you liberated us, seventy years ago. It ended the darkest period in our recent history. You did it while risking your own lives. Some of you got shot and wounded, such as Robie Hancock. Some barely survived while landing on the beach on D-Day, such as Jim Parks. You were told that 85 percent of the soldiers were destined to die on D-Day. Luckily you proved them wrong. But you saw other soldiers dying. You experienced terrifying moments. Some of you couldn’t believe that you could die in uniform. It’s always the other guy next to you who is getting killed, as Okill Stuart would say to cheer himself up. You played your best game of poker while sailing to the beach on D-Day. It was easier to win the toughest game of poker than to reach the beach alive. You experienced situations in which you were the ducks and the enemy was the hunter. But, as John Richardson mentioned, in that situation you were too busy to be scared. Those situations forged a bond between you – military men – that is closer than brothers, as Gordon Bannerman described it.

Jim Parks was among the first Canadian soldiers to arrive on Juno Beach 71 years ago Saturday. He was a part of the unit meant to arrive moments before the D-Day assault began, to set up mortars while armoured bulldozers pulled out obstacles so assault craft could storm ashore.

“The only problem is we got hit by a mine. Then we got hit by a 75 mm anti-tank gun,” said Parks, who was 19 at the time and turned 90 this year.

Parks and the other members of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles had to swim through rough waters and strong current to get to the beach, while German machine gunfire whizzed towards them. “But I wasn’t paying attention to them as much as surviving,” he recounted.