Beautiful solar panels

The ceremonies on May 4 started in Wormer well before eight. Brass band Eensgezindeling, who would provide the musical accompaniment, gathered in the parking lot next to our house. They straightened each other’s uniforms, fiddling with instruments pulled from trunks, playing wildly, waiting for latecomers. Then in a disorganized journey towards the monument opposite the Kruidvat.

Almost everyone was there. I saw the maid we sent away, a nanny, a school teacher, all the familiar faces, really. And scouting, and a fire engine. In the front row a handful of veterans with light blue berets in the Lebanon, maybe Bosnia age group. Lucie van Roosmalen (6) and Leah van Roosmalen (5) discovered their grandmother.


Two primary school students.

Short sentences, maximum rhyme.

The prettiest:

Here in the Netherlands there is freedom

That’s really of this time

Unfortunately that is not everywhere

In Ukraine, for example, this is the case

A few years ago that wasn’t the case in the Netherlands either

Then there was also a lot of sadness here

Germans invaded our country; everyone was scared

People were hungry, how long did it take

Then the allies came, everyone was free again after a period of war

And everyone was happy

Overall, I thought it was a good summary.

For the mayor of the municipality of Wormerland, Judith Michel-De Jong (PvdA), this was the first Remembrance Day with a public. She was with her family. A local tradition, I don’t remember that from the other cities I lived in. I saw them fumbling with a huge wreath, but they couldn’t get it on the wooden stand. As if she had to put together an IKEA cupboard with her husband and two daughters, watched over by the stiff people. Her speech was of a reassuring predictability. She had grown up in peace and never thought that war would come so close. It was whispered around me that this was a reference to Ukraine.

Two minutes of silence.

Just to be sure, I covered the mouths of Lucie van Roosmalen and Leah van Roosmalen. Family humour: they almost bite through. A day later, the prints of their teeth are still there. Then the Wilhelmus, sung along very loudly by a lady with glasses. I looked at her, blood fanatic.

Then the musical closing by Brassband Eensgezindeling, ‘We’ll meet again’ by Vera Lynn. A well-chosen song, because indeed we meet again everywhere. Mostly silently too.

Marcel van Roosmalen writes an exchange column with Ellen Deckwitz here.

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